On March 8, at 1p.m. the non-profit group Friends of Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve (FWGP) hosts the program Future Plans for Three Sisters Springs including Manatee Protection at the Springs; presented by Ivan Vicente, Visitor Services Specialist, Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge Complex. In Crystal River, the waters of Kings Bay and the 30 known springs are a natural refuge for manatees during the winter.
The program will detail the management plan for manatee protection and provide an update on the springs. Sharing quaint names such as Idiots Delight, Tarpon Hole, Mullets Gullet and Three Sisters the area springs are designated sanctuaries for the manatee.
Three Sisters is the only spring accessible on foot and was acquired for the refuge as recently as 2010. Much of the Kings Bay area is closed from November through March for the safety of the influx of manatees but there are many local boat tour options available.
The manatees gather because the springs ensure that the bay waters are a year-round 72 F. At temperatures below 60 F these aquatic mammals would perish but it is not only cold that endangers them. It is human intervention, building, boating and destruction of their natural habitat that most imperils the manatee. And now it is only human guardianship that prevents their extinction.