Fodor's Expert Review Manatee Park

Fort Myers Nature Preserve/Wildlife Refuge

Here you may glimpse Florida's most famous, yet often hard to spot, marine mammal. When Gulf waters drop to 68°F or below—usually from November to March—the sea cows congregate in these waters, which are warmed by the outflow of a towering nearby power plant. Pause at any of the three observation decks (the first nearest the outflow and last at the lagoon usually yield the most sightings, as does the fishing pier) and watch for bubbles. Hydrophones on the last deck allow you to eavesdrop on their songs. Periodically, one of these gentle giants—mature adults weigh an average of 1,000 pounds—will surface. Calusa Blueway Outfitters run the visitor center/gift shop and offer kayak and canoe rentals, as well as clinics and tours to paddle the canals and get a closer look.

Nature Preserve/Wildlife Refuge Family

Quick Facts

10901 Palm Beach Blvd.
Fort Myers, Florida  33905, USA

239-690–5030

www.leeparks.org

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: Free. Parking (cash only) May–Nov. $1 per hr, $5 daily; Dec.–Apr. $2 per hr, $5 daily, Concessions closed Apr.–Nov.

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