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Springs, Manatee, and Wildlife Data

The Amazing Nature in Manatee Paddle

Florida has more first-magnitude springs than any other state or any other nation in the world. The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge comprises 20 islands and several small parcels of land. 600,000,000 gallons of fresh water flow daily from more than 30 natural springs in the refuge. The springs are a natural warm water refuge for the West Indian manatee providing critical habitat for the Crystal River herd, which makes up about 25 percent of the U.S. manatee population.

Spring magnitude is measured by volume in gallons of water discharged as follows: 1st Magnitude – 64,600,000 Gallons Daily; 2nd Magnitude – 6,460,000 Gallons Daily; 3rd Magnitude – 646,000 Gallons Daily; 4th Magnitude – 144,000 Gallons Daily.

Three Sisters Springs/Idiot’s Delight (Water Temperature: 73.3 °F – 22.9 °C) – Three Sisters Springs is an environmental jewel – a blue oasis of clear and pristine water. Three Sisters Springs is a complex of three springs with vents and sand boils that help feed Kings Bay, the headwaters of Crystal River. Three Sisters springs also constitutes one of the most important natural warm-water refuges for manatees. Three Sisters Springs and Idiot’s Delight provide an ideal winter habitat for manatees. On cold winter days, over 200 manatees can be found at Three Sisters Springs and Idiot’s Delight. During temporary closures to Three Sisters Springs on very cold days, you can still paddle to Idiot’s Delight and snorkel with plenty of Manatees there.

King Spring/Mullet Hole (Water Temperature: 73.2 °F – 22.9 °C) – King Spring and Mullet Hole are side by side on the south side of Banana Island. King Spring is about 30 feet deep and 200 feet in diameter and is the main Scuba diving attraction in King’s Bay. There is a manatee statue at about 19 feet. Mangrove snapper, mullet, sheepshead, jacks, tarpon and manatee are found at these springs. On cold winter days, over 200 manatees can be found at King Spring and Mullet Hole. In the summer when the King’s Bay manatee population declines to about 25 manatees throughout the bay, about half of these tend to congregate around Banana Island including some mother-calf pairings that prefer King’s Bay over going out into the Gulf of Mexico.


a bird swimming in water

a close up of a bird

a close up of a bird perched on top of a body of water

a bird standing on a branch

a bird sitting on a branch