Kayakers Banned in Florida (HELP)

That one pic should explain it all…

And all the people probably think they’re having a real wildlife experience…

yeah, that’s insane
If you were taking a bath, would it matter to you whether your uninvited visitors were in small colorful craft, large white craft, or no craft at all?

Let 'em bathe in peace. I’d be ashamed to be in that photo.

Thanks for the photo
18 humans to 4 manatees. If these were dogs, which we do seem to be able to give space when needed, they’d either be backing off or a therapy dog. And no one would be surprised if the cats were all under the bed.

But manatees are supposed to hang out so people can mob them…

I was there when that photo was taken. That is a very calm day in the spring. I"ve asked a friend to post photos of what the spring looks like with swimmers in the water. Trust me, a water craft floating on the water is NOT the issue. for the most part a kayakers can observe a manatee without waking or disturbing it. A few yrs ago I worked as a guide taking folks from all over the world to paddle the waters of Florida. This was one area we offered but I always tried to talk folks out of having to see it. It’s crowded and dotted with houses and people and not all that exciting. Whats new and diff to most is the crystal clear water that you wont see in the Midwest or …Too many times when I did take paddlers there , they asked to leave after seeing the mob of swimmers. It was rare to have the spring to yourself no matter the time of day. Our point is on this that the Manatee “have” to come here to find warm water or they can die, yes they do leave (not by choice) when the tide goes out for fear of getting stuck in the spring. They travel many miles to eat and must come back to warm water to re-charge.

you’re not getting it

Oh, but he is getting it
If you saw a picture with the swimmers in it, you would be appalled.

In the middle of the day, there is almost no room for the manatees, and many times they are forced to leave because there is no room for them.

I like to steer clear of Three Sisters Springs and go to some of the isolated places I know where we can sit and interact with a few Manatees all by ourselves.

Jack L

video of manatee harassment
I’ve been documenting the harassment of manatees in Three Sisters Springs since 2006. At the end of every winter season I submit a video compilation of my documentation to the USFWS refuge staff. After all that time and effort, they decide that banning paddle craft is the answer to the harassment problem. I support total closure of the springs to all human activity but not the banning of one user group over another. For one very small sample of how manatees are treated at Three Sisters Springs see the link below or just type Manatee Harassment youtube’s search box.


That sure looked like harrasment.

3 sisters is not on my list of paddle
places ever again. We will be there in January and I expect the manatees will be in the lagoon though they were not in March of 2013. There is a nice boardwalk for viewing from land.

I think it would be much fairer if everyone were banned too. Thanks for the video.

But can you imagine the commercial squawk? I think this ban proposed is more about dollars than manatees.

Blue Spring State Park, in Orange City
is a manatee sanctuary, not a manatee tourist attraction. Swimming, diving, kayaking in the spring run are not allowed during manatee season, but manatees can be viewed respectfully from the boardwalk which follows the spring run. Volunteers are on hand to answer questions, and there is an excellent presentation about manatees given by the rangers in the interpretive pavilion near the snack bar and gift shop area.

As a Floridian, I am embarrassed that the kind of harassment that takes place at Crystal River is allowed in our state. There are some ethical tour guides that take kayakers to see the manatees there—Lars Andersen, Brack Barker, Matt Clements, Tracey (sorry, I don’t know your last name)—and they clearly specify no touching or chasing of the manatees. But I won’t even go there with them, as it is not enjoyable to see animals treated inhumanely.

I haven’t decided whether to sign this petition or not, as I am definitely in favor of banning all recreational contact between humans and manatees.

Kim, hope to see you next month. We can visit Blue Springs and kayak the St. Johns and watch the manatees come out into the river to feed.


There is a link on this website to view the live manatee cam.

That would be super fun
I hit Blue Springs in March last year and they had left already. Still Snake Creek was delightful.

Homosassa Spring is off limits for the most part where the manatees congregate though I ran into many exiting via the river to the Gulf. There were few swimmers and few motorboats . I am not sure if the number of tour operators there is less. The state park abutting has several viewing places from shore.

Mobs of swimmers
The one time I paddled to 3 Sisters, not many paddlers were around. We only saw a few manatees, which were keeping a low profile, which we respected by not trying to get near them.

But…then the hordes descended. Screaming, splashing kids swarming all over the place. What manatees had been visible vanished from view. I don’t blame them.

Huge contrast from another day in another location, when manatees would swim near us. One of them, a youngster, actually followed us around like a dog.

so don’t let anyone in
Anything else is speaking for the manatees.

It’s just my opinion but I would not be proud to represent kayakers if I was in that photo. That’s what I think he’s not getting. He can say he’s as careful as possible but it doesn’t seem as though every paddler is.

What probably happened
I was there during a sunny, warm week in February 2003.

Between then and now, the crowds (all crowds, not just paddlers) probably got worse. Part of that probably was driven by desperate commercial tour groups trying to squeeze dollars from visitors during a time that included a long recession.

Manatees vs. $$$$ – guess who wins that one!

As anyone who’s actually seen manatees can verify, the absolute worst damage is inflicted by boat props. Literally every manatee we saw bore scars, even very young manatees. Some of the powerboaters we saw aggressively chased manatees to drop snorkelers near them. There were volunteers (in kayaks) trying to prevent this kind of harassment, but they couldn’t control all of it.

Not that simply loving them to death isn’t stressful for them, too.