Manatees Of Marion County Find New Human Hideaway

Nov 22, 2019

The Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida is giving a $17,098 to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute to study the manatees at Silver River.
Credit Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida

Residents of Marion County saw Manatees gather in the Silver River last winter. That’s raising eyebrows with the folks at the Fish and Wildlife Foundation of Florida. The organization is now investing in research to find out why Manatees are changing where they swim.

Scientists from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute spotted about 34 manatees in Silver River—a new record for the area. To stay warm, the sea-cows need to be still. When a kayak or boat comes down the river, the creatures could get spooked, start swimming away, and drain all their energy. 

The institute’s senior research scientist Monica Ross says in the past, manatees have relied on water discharge from power plants to keep warm. But if those plants were to eventually shut down, Ross fears the creatures won’t know where to go for the winter. She says natural hideaways like Silver River are good.

The area has miles of warm water and lots of plants for manatees to eat. But in the advent of social media, the sea-cows could attract more people. Ross hopes river-goers will use manatee-manners by not going within 25 feet of the creatures and to not pursue them if they move away.