Well known manatee hot spot, Three Sister’s Springs in Crystal River, Florida is at the center of a controversy between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a group looking to ban people from interacting with manatees during the cold winter months.
Currently people are able to swim with the gentle creatures aside from the coldest days, in which the manatees gather close to the spring for survival.
The group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service if they don’t limit tourist interaction before May.
“The manatee is actually a success story. Their numbers are going up, the population is going up,” said Andrew Gude, manager of the refuge. “Tourism has also gone through the roof. You can rent a car and for $40 you can swim with a mammal that will never rip you apart. The reason the service has been so supportive is that when people see the manatees and get in the water with them, in a lot of ways it changes their lives and they’re a lot more conservation-minded.”
Read the full story here.