no one’s forcing paddlers to swim with
manatees. You just can't kayak with them. Sounds reasonable to me.
If you don't think anyone should swim with the manatees, why don't you start a petition saying that?
..if I were an air breathing mammal would I want a kayak between me and my air supply.
Would you like UFOs full of tourists bouncing on your head?
The manatees were there before the tourists and tour operators.
Three Sisters is too popular
by far. It’s a cool place, but it can get plugged with paddle boats. Keeping it open for swimmers only would make sense to me. The first time I saw it I had to leave my power boat outside, and snorkel in. It’s really the best way to see it.
So you want to paddle but not swim?
I’d personally ban both activities. Picking the one in the boat is not going get my signature.
where is 3
Sisters Spring ?
Is this 3 Sisters ?
A little geography and background from
my paddle visit last year.
The springs themselves are navigable only via a shallow narrow channel. Six feet or so wide and about four feet deep. Inaccessible to power craft. There is a volunteer ranger on duty in the area in duh a kayak to make sure people dont destroy the vegetation and harass the manatees.
No manatees are in the springs. They all hang out in deeper water in the river. Why? Ranger said it was because there are no nutrients for them in the spring pool. They all hang out at the channel exit and tend to congregate in a roped off area on Kings Bay where no one can go. Of course there are manatees outside the roped area…they do come and go and that is where most of the swimmer interaction is.
The traffic is simply huge… Lots of riverbank erosion caused by boats being driven on shore rather than dropping an anchor line… Swimmers in peril from prop blades… Kayakers and swimmers meeting each other on the narrow channel( its about 100 feet long).
The best might be to add boardwalks for viewing and ban all boat traffic and swimming… I feel the proposed ban is grounded in economics rather than ecology.
And if a manatee 800 lbs wants to move you it will. They are not helpless. I was flipped over by one last year. Had I been in a power boat it would not have had success.
Thanks for the clarification
It sounds even more though like there should be no traffic of any kind in that immediate area though.
I didn’t suspect a manatee would have issues moving someone in a typical kayak. That doesn’t mean they can’t be bothered in some way by human-involved traffic though. I’d rather not bother the critters.
they do seem to like interaction
to a point. They can lose their tempers . I was in the middle of a twosome mating when the male took umbrage to my presence. You cannot always see them until their backs get close to the surface. The water is not clear in the river… It is in the springs.
And boy can they move when they want to! One male made a wake taking off after another male.
I think that they may have a tolerance level of people but when there are too many they get stressed. Just like people.
I don’t think it’s up to people to decide what the manatees like. Particularly people with ulterior motives.
How was this land acquired?
I read your Petition Highlights, and I believe I understand what you are seeking: A land-based landing to put ashore so you don’t have to swim to shore. Sounds simple enough to me. Let me ask you:
Who purchased the property?
Who was the property purchased from?
Was this public or private land before?
Is it public or private land now?
Did this land purchase involve voter approval of funds?
Did this land purchase use money collected from citizen donations?
Was the promise of the paddle craft landing a part of any campaign to acquire voter approval or solicit funds?
Not true Kim
Most of the time in the winter months the springs are full of manatees.
Unfortunately many times there are so many swimmers from the tour boats that the manatees get harassed so badly that they go out into the canals to get away from them
The best time is early morning before all the yahoos in the tour boats get there. You can paddle in and just sit still, having the whole place to yourself. The older ones don't want any part of you, but the younger ones will come up to your boat and many times nuzzle your hand.
We have our own place(not three sisters Springs) where we go each year and the young ones will stay as long as you want to stay and have their heads scratched. I can almost guarantee it every year.
From my google website
Note: this is not in Burnham’s book
CRYSTAL RIVER-KINGS BAY
KAYAK/ CANOE TRIP
(Florida, West coast -Half way down)
Trip Length: 5 to 10 miles
Short Description: Leave from a public park - Explore a few springs.
-Look for Manatee as you make a circle around Kings Bay and return
Best weather conditions: Wind less than 15 MPH
Comments: Recommended for all level paddlers
-Watch for manatees during the winter months, (You’ll meet and greet some at “Three Sisters
-Water clarity is poor except at the launch area where it is fair, and at the springs area where it is
-The water is salt except where it comes out of the springs
Directions: Heading north on US 19, from Homosassa Springs at Crystal River, turn left at a set of
lights just after the junction of route 44.
-The road will be N.E. Third Ave.
-It is across from “Fancy Pet” store
-Follow the signs that say “Beach Access” to the park
-There is ample parking, rest rooms and a little sandy beach to launch from.
The trip: After launching - ( Waypoint L - N28 53.284 W82 35.372) turn left and paddle a few hundred
yards straight across to the first springhead.
-Then return and exit the little bay past where you launched, bearing around to the left as you
go.(make notes of some landmarks so you can find your way back at the end of your paddle)
-Follow the tour/dive boats and continue, bearing left under a bridge.
-In a short distance you will come to where some empty tour/dive boats will be anchored waiting for
their passengers who are at the “Three Sisters Springs”
-As you approach these tour/dive boats keep looking in the woods on the left hand side and you will see a narrow opening with white posts that prevent the larger boats from entering, but allow canoes, kayaks and swimmers to pass through. (Waypoint 3SS - N28 53.679 W82 35.575)
-Paddle on though to the “Three Sisters Springs”.
-As you enter one will be to your left, and the other two will be up at the far right end.
-After you play around there for a while, you can take the second exit, which is similar to the one
you came in through, but up farther on the right.
-After exiting, turn right and go back out into Kings Bay the way you came in, and then head slightly left and cross to Buzzards Island, which you can circle counter-clockwise
-When you get about three quarters of the way around, once again watch for the tour/dive boats,
which will be off to the right.
-Head in their direction and to the left of where they are all anchored and in between the area
marked off with the white buoys, will be underwater caves with springs.
-The island to the left will be Banana Island.
-Continue bearing to the left and you will come back out into Kings Bay again where you can either
head for home, or go a little way down the Crystal River and then return back
I was there in March
and the manatees had exhausted the food. That little statement did not come from my mouth.. Thats what the onsite ranger stated.
Maybe now its different. I have no way of knowing.
At any given time there were twenty or more swimmers and four or five paddlers in the channel. I suspect that is too much for manatees
The real issue is crowding even with the narrow gate there.
You won’t find many if any in March
they all head out to open water at that time as the water warms up.
Go in the winter months and you will see a bunch more.
A few stragglers might be left, but nothing like the winter.
For what it is worth, there is little to no food in the actual Three Sisters Springs area. It is mostly a sandy bottom, and just a place for the Manatees to soak up the 72 degree water.
I counted some
two hundred at the outflow exit but none in the channel. They were just starting back to the Gulf. It was not warm. Gulf temps were still cold.
I also got flipped by one in Homosassa.
There were hundreds in that river.. more than in Crystal.
There would not have been dozens of tour boats and swimmer boats if there were no manatees. The body count was insane.
What we are asking for.
Thanks for actually reading the petition and understanding that we are NOT WANTING TO PADDLE WITH MANATEES SEEKING SHELTER IN THE SPRINGS. We have supported a move to close the spring to all activities when manatees are present. (SEE http://org2.salsalabs.com/o/5215/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=16748)
What we are asking for here is simply a landing that lets paddlers view manatees from the land without having to paddle over them or swim with them. Many of us like to watch manatees but don’t want to bother manatees by swimming with them or can’t get into the water and then back into a kayak from the moorings which are in deep water.
In response to your thoughtful questions:
Q. Who purchased the property? A. The city of Crystal River and the Southwest Florida Water Management District are technically the title holders even though several public and private funding sources were used. USFWS then entered into a management agreement with the City to manage the property as part of the Crystal River NWR.
Q. Who was the property purchased from? A. A development group from SW Florida.
Q. Was this public or private land before? A. Recently purchased from private owners the spring bottom was conveyed to private ownership but the spring run was determined to be navigable waters by the courts.
Q. Is it public or private land now? A. Now public.
Q. Did this land purchase involve voter approval of funds? A. Not specifically. Land was purchased with a combination of public and private funding.
Q. Did this land purchase use money collected from citizen donations? A. Yes
Q. Was the promise of the paddle craft landing a part of any campaign to acquire voter approval or solicit funds? A. Yes. Landing was deleted after purchase when land owners in the vicinity objected. Granting agency let them substitute a creative playground for the landing, post acquisition.
Follow the $$$
It’s all about $$$.
It’s always about $$$.
Too many people
Sounds like it needs to be closed to paddlers, swimmers, and no future foot traffic.
Lots of areas are closed as wildlife areas near where I live, give the animals some peace.
Crowds (loved to death)
I only visit when the weather is so bad that sane people stay at home. Go on a cold, dark and wet day and you will be rewarded with plenty of manatees and very few people. The spring area is relatively small; I prefer to tie-up on the outside and swim in. A paddle-float makes this an easy operation even with a SINK.
Other popular manatee “hang-outs” such as Blue Springs near Orlando, for a number of years, have closed the spring-head to paddle-craft (but not yet swimmers) when the manatees are present.
While I have never seen it this crowded, this picture of Three Sisters gets to the heart of the controversy: