The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has successfully completed restoration work downstream from Warm Mineral Springs in Sarasota County. The warm water flowing from the spring is of particular importance to manatees seeking shelter from cooler winter temperatures.
FWC staff worked with partners to overcome challenges, including the arrival of Hurricane Ian on Florida’s gulf coast in fall 2022. Extreme flooding within the project and surrounding areas halted work, requiring significant debris removal and additional funding and time. The project resumed in the spring of 2023 and was successfully completed before the winter season. It is anticipated that manatees will return to this enhanced warm-water site this winter.
While the creeks can be enjoyed by the public in spring and summer, this area is an FWC No Entry Zone from Nov. 15 to March 15. This restriction ensures that manatees can access the warm-water refuge upstream without disturbances from human activities, which can jeopardize their health by causing them to flee to colder waters. There is no public viewing of manatees at this warm-water site but a list of where you can safely view manatees at several other warm-water sites can be found by going to MyFWC.com/Education, clicking the “Learn About Wildlife” banner then “Manatee” and “Where to See Manatees.” When observing manatees in any location, always remember to give them space and watch from a distance for their safety and yours. Manatees are a protected species and it is illegal to harass, feed, disturb or harm them.
Construction of this project was funded by the Florida Legislature in response to the manatee Unusual Mortality Event on the state’s Atlantic coast and is the first to be completed using these funds. Manatee habitat conservation and restoration is important in all areas of Florida and this project will provide an important refuge for the southwest manatee population during the winter.
This project would not have been possible without support from Florida’s Legislators and Governor Ron DeSantis, as well as agency partners including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sarasota County Government, The Nature Conservancy, Coastal and Heartland National Estuary Partnership, the City of North Port, the National Wildlife Federation and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation.
To learn more about some of the FWC’s priority manatee habitat restoration projects, visit MyFWC.com/AquaticHabitat. For more information about manatees, including the manatee UME on the Atlantic coast, visit MyFWC.com/Manatee.