A wildlife park in Florida was closed Monday after being invaded by over 300 manatees.
Three Sisters Springs, a wildlife sanctuary on the Crystal River in Florida, is usually open to tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of the local manatees, an endangered sea mammal. Boats are not allowed in the springs area, but sections of it can be used for kayaking and swimming.
However, as the high tide came in around noon on Monday (February 2), a number of the creatures starting flooding into the interior of the springs, and by 1:30 pm over 300 manatees were counted. At that time, the US Fish and Wildlife Service issued a temporary closure
of a one acre area of the springs.
The springs reopened on Tuesday, but will close again as the tide rises since the manatees are expected to return. According to Laura Ruettiman, an environmental education guide at the Springs, the manatees tend to gather in the interior areas at the springs when the tides are high and the temperatures are low
She suggests that the increase in activity could be due to a loss of safe habitats for the manatees in other parts of the state. "We have a record number this year," Ruettiman said. "We have 150 more manatees here than have ever been recorded in the past."
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