Enjoy the sight of manatees huddling as weather cools


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Manatees are lovable sea cows that make Brevard County their home.

Klinton Landress

One of the Space Coast’s more endearing natural wonders are manatees, or sea cows. The humongous but gentle marine mammals enjoy Brevard County as much as humans do, so they visit the Indian River Lagoon by the thousands.

While you can spot manatees anywhere at any time of the year along the lagoon, the animals tend to frequent some spots more than others. During the colder months, they often huddle for warmth in some favorite hangouts. So, if you see one manatee, chances are excellent you will see many more.

Manatees Central is the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, particularly Haulover Canal, which connects the Mosquito Lagoon with the Indian River. On the east side of the bridge is a manatee observation area that includes a viewing platform, boat ramp, interpretive signs and a polarized viewer.

In Melbourne, the Crane Creek Promenade Manatee Observation Area typically delivers manatee sightings, particularly during cooler months, when the warmth-seeking creatures tend to congregate in the protected shelter of Melbourne Harbor. The promenade features a 10-foot wide lighted boardwalk and interpretive exhibit, all within easy walking distance from shops and restaurants in downtown Melbourne.

Brevard’s network of canals also are must-visit destinations for manatee spotters. Crowds of humans flock the canals of DeSoto Parkway in Satellite Beach. Why are they there? To see manatees, of course.

Just outside Brevard County, manatees like to gather at Canal 54 by Buffer Preserve Road in Indian River County. A manatee overlook area marks the spot where the gentle giants gather.

Cape Canaveral’s flagship park, Manatee Sanctuary Park, is so named because it borders a section of the Banana River that serves as a protected manatee habitat. The manatees love munching on the sea grass along the park’s boardwalk.

Wherever you find them, manatees are an endangered species. So instead of attempting to touch or feed the sea cows, just enjoy the awesome sight.

• Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is approximately three to five miles east of State Road 402 in Titusville. For information, call
321-861-2384.

• Crane Creek Promenade Manatee Observation Area is at 1005 E. Melbourne Ave. in Melbourne.

• Manatee Sanctuary Park is at 701 Thurm Blvd. in Cape Canaveral.

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