Responsible Kayaking Around Manatees

Florida is known for its beautiful beaches, balmy weather, and amazing wildlife. One of the most popular activities in Florida is kayaking and here, you’ll have a chance to paddle alongside manatees. One of the best places to kayak is around Crystal River, where you have a good chance of seeing these gentle giants!

These creatures are curious by nature and will often come up to investigate kayaks. It’s an incredible experience that you won’t want to miss. So, grab your kayak and get ready for some unforgettable wildlife encounters!

Responsible kayaking around manatees

The federal government protects manatees, making it illegal to harm or bother them. How can you have a fantastic experience paddling around manatees? Make sure you’re prepared before going out on the water.


  1. The Manatee Club’s free stuff, like a manatee card and a manatee banner, is a good idea to have on board. The purpose of this is to let individuals know that there may be a manatee in the vicinity.
  2. To practice caution, Wear polarized sunglasses to keep an eye on manatees – this helps reduce glare out on the water.
  3. Keep your eyes peeled for indications of manatees, such as circles in the water formed by their tail or snouts.
  4. If you see a manatee come up for air, stop or slow down and remain a kayak length away.
  5. Practice passive observation by observing manatees from a distance and only on the surface.
  6. Make sure to surface paddle gently around manatees and avoid splashing or loud noises.


  1. Do not get near or crowd manatees. Make sure to provide them room to swim.
  2. Do not jab, prod, or harass them. Pay close attention to where you’re resting your paddles.
  3. In Florida, it is not suggested that you reach out to touch manatees from your kayak or get out of the boat to swim with them in the region.
  4. Never feed or throw food to manatees. What appears to be harmless may in fact disrupt their natural behavior.
  5. Avoid mating herd. Usually, manatees are not aggressive towards people, yet mating herds may create an unpredictable situation. They can come up under your kayak and tip you over!

State and federal laws protect manatees, and failing to follow these rules may result in fines or other legal action. Most significantly, have a good time while on the water!

Last but not least, please report immediately to the FWC wildlife alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC or visit their website at if you see a dead or injured manatee.

Thanks and safe paddling!


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