Many visitors come to Florida hoping to catch a glimpse of the gentle giant, the manatee. These slow-moving air-breathing aquatic creatures are fascinating to see, and if you’re coming to Fort Myers Beach this winter, you’re in luck; December through February are the optimal months for viewing manatees! During your visit, you are likely to see them swimming in the wild, but for an even greater chance of a sighting, head to the Lee County Manatee Park!
About the Lee County Manatee Park
At the Lee County Manatee Park, you will see a non-captive warm water refuge for the Florida Manatee. Many guests have been able to see dozens of manatees swimming in their natural habitat when visiting at the right time.
About the Florida Manatee
The Florida Manatee is a large aquatic relative of the elephant. As Florida’s state marine mammal, they tend to stay in warmer waters, which is why you can find them at Lee County Manatee Park in the winter months. They are a gray/brown color with wrinkled skin, often growing with algae. All manatees are herbivores with their diet consisting mostly of seagrass and other aquatic vegetation. Although there is no exact number, experts say there are only about 5,000 Florida manatees left in existence.
Some manatees venture as far north as the Carolinas but are happiest in Florida’s coastal waters. Manatees are known for their gentle nature and slow movements, but can often be found body surfing or barrel rolling when playing in the shallow waters.
Unfortunately, the Florida Manatee population is endangered, so when you are in their habitat make sure to be cautious of their natural surroundings. Their leading cause of death is a collision with watercraft, so make sure you move at a slow speed when crossing through their waters.
One little-known fact about manatees is that they only have molars, which they use for grinding up their food. Once these molars are worn down, they fall out and new ones grow in their place. Manatees also only breathe through their nostrils since their mouth is occupied with eating. A manatee’s lungs are ⅔ the size of its body. With these creatures reaching up to 12 feet and 1,800 pounds, you do not want to miss this one-of-a-kind sight.
4 Things to See at the Lee County Manatee Park
See these majestic endangered creatures swim along in their natural habitat. Late December through February are the optimal months for viewing these beautiful animals.
- Kayak with Manatees
If viewing the manatees isn’t enough, you can paddle your kayak alongside the manatees. Rent a kayak or canoe from Calusa Blueway Outfitters & Gift Shop to enhance your manatee experience.
- Native Plants & Butterfly Garden
While visiting the Lee County Manatee Park, make sure you walk through the serene native plants and butterfly garden. Located on 350 feet of the Florida Power & Light Discharge Canal, there are plenty of great plants and butterflies to see.
- Fishing Pier
After viewing all there is to see at Lee County Manatee Park, fishing enthusiasts should head on over to the fishing pier on Orange River and catch your dinner.
Plan a Trip!
After spending a full day viewing the beloved manatees at the Lee County Manatee Park, enjoy a relaxing evening at your beautiful vacation rental from Sun Palace Vacations. Watch the sunset from your deck or the beach and enjoy a warm, sunny winter in Fort Myers Beach. Whether you would like to plan a warm winter getaway or are looking for a great place to celebrate the holidays, Sun Palace Vacations in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., has everything you need!