endangered species

Hundreds of Manatees Crowd Central Florida Springs

Wildlife officials say a big group of manatees has arrived to Three Sisters Springs in Central Florida this year.

According to the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the last aerial survey on Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge counted 797 of the sea cows, up from 120 in an earlier count.

Cooler temperatures caused nearly 300 manatees to swim into the warmer waters in the area, according to a report by Tampa NBC affiliate WFLA. Several wildlife refuge areas in Citrus County are a popular winter habitat for manatees.

So many moved into the Three Sisters Springs that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials had to close the springs in order to protect the animals, which are classified as endangered species. State wildlife managers also regulate the speed of boats through manatee areas and the number of people allowed in the water with them.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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