Watch Hundreds of Cold Manatees Huddle in a Warm Florida Refuge
You’re not the only one who’s sick of winter. According to The Orlando Sentinel, cool temperatures along Florida’s Gulf Coast have caused as many as 500 foraging manatees to ditch the chilly waters for a toasty wildlife refuge near Tampa called Three Sisters Springs. There, the animals have huddled together for warmth in an impressive natural display that's left visitors gawking for several days.
But it's not just a light-hearted "winter vacation" for the sea cows. Cold weather and boat strikes are two of the the leading causes of manatee deaths. The giant marine mammals are vulnerable to low temperatures, and can suffer hypothermia and cold stress if they’re in waters below 68 degrees.
Since the region's climate isn't expected to warm up until next week, The Guardian reports that the massive manatee huddle might continue for several more days. In the mean time, swimmers and kayakers aren’t allowed to go in the water, lest they disturb any members of the protected migratory species. However, they’re still allowed to watch the spectacle from a boardwalk in the refuge.
Watch Inside Edition's video above for footage of the mammoth mammals.
All images courtesy of iStock.
[h/t The Orlando Sentinel]