Aardvark's Florida Kayak Tours in Crystal River
The Manatees of the Nature Coast A Lesson in Passive Observation
A Less Intrusive Alternative to Swim with the Manatee Programs



Experience Level: Beginner to Experienced

  • From $50 pp includes the use of Aardvark's equipment.
  • Abbreviated Private Tours for Families with Small Children $65 pp
  • Private Tours $100 pp (includes equipment upgrades to light weight
    carbon paddles  as well as any and all park fees.)

Manatees are wild animals and sightings cannot be guaranteed.  
Weekdays are less crowded than weekends and make for a more
relaxed experience. Destination will be determined based on
conditions, but the Chassahowitzka River is one of our favorite go to places.

Seasonal

Manatee Tours
Those who wish to pet and baby wild animals "love" them. But those who respect their natures and
wish to let them live normal lives, love them more
." (Edwin Way Teale)
Copyright ©2003 Aardvark's Florida Kayak Company   All Rights Reserved












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 animals aggregate in the Chassahowitzka,
Homosassa, and Crystal Rivers in Citrus County.  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, infant survival
and contribute to injuries when manatees become too accustomed to humans.

Click Here for Manatee Viewing Guidelines from FWCC


Manatee Research
Manatee presence is weather
dependent.

Warmer weather = Lesser chance.

Greatest Numbers are Generally
Seen from December through
February.

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
Book It
Crystal River
Homosassa
Chassahowitzka
Aardvark's Florida Kayak Company
352.795.5650

Serving all of Central Florida
Have Kayaks, Will Travel
FOR GOOGLE MAP USERS  OPEN THE ABOVE MAP
AND USE IT AS A GPS APP ON YOUR MOBILE DEVICE
Aardvark's Florida Kayak Company
352.795.5650

Serving all of Central Florida
Have Kayaks, Will Travel
From the Google App Store or I Phone store, download and install
PocketSights on your device.  Our Self-Guided Manatee Tour is part
of their larger collection of self guided tours.
All participants will meet at Kings Bay Park in Crystal River or Chassahowitzka County Campground depending on
tour venue.  Exact address will be provided upon acceptance of reservation.