(CITRUS COUNTY)— Rare manatee twins have been spotted in the crystal blue waters of Homosassa Springs, said Citrus County Visitors & Convention Bureau and United States Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) officials. Florida manatees are listed as endangered and only 2 percent of all manatee births result in twins.
“In the past 10 years, maybe I’ve spotted a dozen set of twins but never once have I seen them in the springs nor have I seen a mother and her calves quite so visible in Homosassa waters,” said Ivan Vicente, visitor services specialist for FWS. “That’s because nursing mothers usually isolate themselves in low trafficked areas to keep the calves protected from mainly people, only this time they aren’t as isolated.”
Vicente predicts the mother will remain in the protective springs of Homosassa for the next few weeks until she feels confident enough to introduce her calves along the coastal areas along the Gulf of Mexico.
Florida’s state marine mammal, Florida manatees are large, fully aquatic, herbivorous relatives of the elephant. Commonly referred to as sea cows, manatees have paddle-like flippers, measure up to 13-ft. long, weigh as much as 1,300 pounds and may live up to 80 years in the wild. On average, one calf is born to one manatee every two to five years making twins all the more rare. Only one in 50 births results in twins.
“While the winter months draw the largest number of manatees to Crystal River, manatee spotting in the summertime is particularly special because that’s when you can see — and actually swim —with the babies,” said Adam Thomas, director of the Citrus County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Citrus County is the only place in the United States where you can legally get in the water and swim with the manatees in the winter months and words truly can not express how amazing it is to be graced by one of these gentle giants — especially when you see twins swimming alongside Mom.”
Florida manatees are federally protected and remain on the endangered species list. According to FWS, there are less than 6,000 in and around the state of Florida. For more information on swimming with the manatees in Citrus County, visit http://www.visitcitrus.com.