Leaves changing color and cooler weather let humans know when seasons are changing. In Florida the seasonal changes are more subtle, but recognized by the Florida manatee.
Manatees are usually found in shallow, slow-moving water. They are known to travel between freshwater rivers, brackish water estuaries and coastal saltwater ecosystems for mating, breeding, birthing, and feeding.
Manatees need warm water to survive. When the water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico drop below 68* F(20*C), manatees leave their usual feeding grounds to search for warmer waters. Although they are very large marine mammals, they have little fat to keep their bodies warm and are susceptible to cold stress.
Many manatees in Southwest Florida come to Manatee Park to keep warm during cold spells.
The warm water in the discharge canal from the Florida Power & Light Plant provides a refuge from the cold.
During extreme drops in temperature, manatees usually remain close to a warm-water source and, during breaks in the weather, travel to nearby feeding ares. Unfortunately, there is no source of food for manatees in the warm-water discharge canal. Sometimes, when the weather remains very cold, manatee may not feed for days at a time.
During the summer, when ocean waters are warm, manatees may travel from
southern Florida. Manatees that regularly visit Florida waters during the winter have been seen as far west as Texas and as far north as Virginia and New York.