Now is the perfect time of year to catch a glimpse of Southwest Florida’s West Indian manatees and there are several places where you’re almost guaranteed to set eyes on some of these gentle giants. For me, sea cows fall into the category of “so homely they’re cute”, and I always appreciate that I’m able to witness them in their natural habitat.
Why is this the best time of year to see manatees? Because manatees are warm blooded mammals who seek out warmer waters as the temperature in the Gulf drops below 68 degrees. For certain this winter the water temps are lower than normal, sending scores of manatee out of the Gulf and into neighboring rivers and canals.
The number one, sure bet location is the Lee County Manatee Park in Fort Myers, at 10901 Palm Beach Blvd. Florida Power and Light is situated right next door and as the plant generates power it releases warm water into the river. This creates an ideal place for manatees to hang out, play, feed and sleep.
In Cape Coral there are a couple of bodies of water where I almost always spot manatee from the end of December through February. Sirenia Vista Park at 3916 Ceitus Pkwy has a manatee observation deck and a kayak launch if you decide to get real up close and personal. I’ve also seen multiple manatee in Shadroe Lake which is at the intersection of Embers Pkwy and Burnt Store Rd. Of course if you’re lucky enough to live on one of Cape Coral’s gulf access canals, you may find a manatee or two right in your own backyard.
My personal favorite manatee spotting site is Jensen’s Marina in Captiva, 15300 Captiva Drive. Winter, summer, spring or fall I’ve never been there and not seen at least one of these peaceful creatures.
And what are the signs to look for to determine if there are manatee about? Check for water swirls, also called manatee footprints, which are perfect circles formed on the surface as the sea cows pump their tails up and down to propel themselves through the water. Sometimes the first thing you’ll catch sight of is their snout breaking the surface as they come up for air, or you may observe their gray, rounded back. Listen carefully and you may hear a “pffft” from the manatee as it takes a breath before you actually see him.
There are lots of other locations throughout SW Florida to observe these beautiful animals but this will get you started. Come move on down here and see manatees and other beautiful wildlife year-round! We (Sue and Tom Demogenes) would love to help you find your dream home. To search properties in the Cape Coral an SWFL area, contact us here or call at 239-357-6118.