Manatees are peaceful animals that can easily interact with humans, as long as you follow the proper procedures.
Some places offer the experience of swimming with manatees as part of an educational activity that aims to raise awareness of the importance of these species within their ecosystem and the rescue and conservation programs that are implemented to avoid extinction.
If you are preparing for such experience, we will tell you: What to know before swimming with manatees.
Regardless that each place has its particular regulations, there are things that you should be aware when swimming with manatees:
1. When getting into the water, do it slowly without causing any disturbance; this type of movements can cause stress and alter the behavior of these animals. Move around splashing as little as possible.
2. Always watch your young children. Their curiosity can make them do dangerous or damaging activities.
3. Keep your distance with manatees. In some places they allow you to touch them, but if you choose to observe them only, it will be much better for them and If you touch them, do it gently.
4. Some manatees may approach you. If this happens, move slowly and in case you are on the surface, do not shout to attract the attention of your companions.
5. If you find a manatee resting or feeding, do not come near to touching it or submerge it next to it.
6. Do not chase them.
7. If you see a baby, do not make it separate from its mother. Also, do not scare away any individual from its group.
8. It is forbidden to step on or stand on a manatee. Believe it or not, it has happened.
9. You should never corral, surround, push the manatees or hang from any part of their body to drag them.
10. Keep your diving flippers on the surface. If you remove the bottom with them, the raised sand reduces the visibility for manatees.
11. Wear biodegradable sunscreen. Respect the environment and marine species using substances that are not harmful or polluting.
12. Do not interfere with the path or movements of manatees.
It is essential to always keep in mind that we are guests to their natural habitat; therefore, we must not cause any disturbance. For 30, 45 or 60 minutes of the experience, we can enjoy the moment without damaging them.
Protect manatees and show them the respect they deserve at all times.
Here we include some places for swimming with these animals and also some advice that you should follow for your safety and the welfare of the manatees.
Where can you swim with manatees?
Crystal River Florida – Manatee capital of the world.
Citrus is a county in the state of Florida, which offers visitors different activities. One of these places is Crystal River, a city that has become well known for its beautiful scenery and the diverse aquatic activities that can be done there, such as kayaking, paddle surfing, boating and one of the most popular swimming with manatees.
To swim with the manatees, you can enter discovercrystalriverfl.com to set up an itinerary for the activities you want to do during the days of your stay.
At the bottom of that website you can find the authorized places that offer this experience, also, you can check services rates, schedules and duration of the activities (among other details) to choose the one that fits your requirements. In a nutshell, you can organize your encounter with manatees online.
It is worth mentioning that Citrus County is the only place in the United States where you can legally swim with manatees, and where each group of visitors has the guidance of experts who show everything necessary to avoid disturbing these animals.
In Mexico, there is a well-known place among international visitors to swim with manatees; this place is named Xel-há and is an ecological park located in the Yucatan peninsula, specifically in the State of Quintana Roo, near Playa del Carmen and Cancún.
The activity lasts for 40 minutes, where you have the opportunity to feed the manatees and swim alongside them. It is only offered 2:30 hours, from 11 am. to 1:30 p.m. to avoid stress to the manatees.
If you want to visit Xel-há, it is important to consider the weather conditions, since they suspend the activity, if they are not favorable. For safety, pregnant women are not allowed, and children must be accompanied by an adult all the time.
Dolphin Discovery Cozumel
This place also located in the Mexican Caribbean is located within the Chankanaab National Park on the island of Cozumel. Between an environment of flora and fauna typical of the region and turquoise waters, you can interact with the manatees for a time of 50 minutes to caress and feed them, not forgetting the specifications offered by the attendees not to cause stress or other alteration.
Sea Life Discovery Plus
This tour is a three-hour trip between Cancun and Isla Mujeres, Quintana Roo, which not only includes interaction with manatees for a time of thirty minutes but also swimming with dolphins and sea lions.
Each tour is complemented with relevant information to learn about each group of animals, as well as the medical care they receive, their training and their conservation status.
In the United States, swimming with manatees can cost between $ 50 and $ 85 depending on the location and the extra services hired (food, photographs, etc.). There are also group packages where the rate drops considerably, and there are discounts for military personnel and children of certain ages.
In Mexico, costs range from $ 800 to $ 3,000 Mexican pesos (around $40 and $150 USD). Usually, children of certain ages get discounts.
In both cases, you must also consider transportation costs, tickets, food, and souvenirs.