Citrus County is probably best known for its manatee or "seacow" population. This is known as the
Northwest Sub-Group and accounts for 10-15% of the Florida population totals. The waters of Citrus
County are the winter home of upwards of 500 Florida Manatees. The scientific name for the Florida
sub-species is Trichechus manatus latirostris. Summer counts are variable, but in the summer of 2009,
counts were in the low to mid 30 range. These unique creatures are listed as in need of protection by both
state and federal governments.
The Florida Kayak Company offers manatee tours of a different variety. We are concerned that just the
great number of divers seeking manatee contact is beginning to or has the potential to effect behavior
such as cow-calf bonding and imprinting on humans. A recent study by Texas A&M University focuses on
harassment issues in the context of manatee tours in Crystal River and speculates that humans entering the
water may be affecting the manatees breeding behavior and energy budgets. Sorice Report (PDF)
For this reason our manatee tours are conducted with a hands off approach. While it may not be illegal to
dive with or touch a manatee under certain circumstances, we believe that the animals need to stay wild
and as with any wild animal, the true ecotourist should look, but not touch. Please resist the temptation to
reach out and pet the animal. Our encounters occur from above via the least intrusive means, kayaks &
Stand Up Paddleboards, and are by design passive observations.
We do not offer swim with manatee programs. We believe this to be too intrusive and not beneficial to
our manatees. There are simply too many people doing it with no concern for impacts on manatees.
Another excellent option and the least intrusive of all is the view the captive manatees at the Homosassa
Springs State Wildlife Park and in the winter, you may catch a glimpse of the wild herd from the
observation deck at the park.
Please Enjoy Their Company, But Resist the Urge to Touch.
Note: While touching a manatee is not on the list of prohibited activities, we recommend, as does USFWS, a no touch ethic. Touching or petting a manatee does nothing to meet the biological needs of this animal and may in fact effect breeding, infantsurvival and contribute to injuries when manatees become too accustomed to humans.
Our Opinion on Swim with Manatee Issues
Programs. Letter to City Council (PDF)
Here are a Few Links to Peer Reviewed Studies Involving Human/Manatee Interaction
MANAGING ENDANGERED SPECIES WITHIN THE USE/PRESERVATION PARADOX:UNDERSTANDING AND DEFINING HARASSMENT OF THE WEST INDIAN MANATEE (TRICHECHUS MANATUS) Click Here for PDF
MANATEE WINTER DISTRIBUTION IN KINGS BAY, CRYSTAL RIVER, FL AND ITS APPLICATION TO THE DESIGN OF
MANATEE SPEED ZONES AND SANCTUARIES IN THE BAY Click Here for PDF
AN ASSESSMENT OF THE BEHAVIORS OF OVERWINTERING MANATEES AS INFLUENCED BY INTERACTIONS WITH TOURISTS AT TWO SITES IN CENTRAL FLORIDA Click Here for PDF
FACTORS INFLUENCING BEHAVIOR IN A BOATING SPEED ZONE Click Here for PDF