CRYSTAL RIVER, Fla Hundreds of heat-seeking manatees are packing the warm water springs at a Tampa Bay-area national wildlife refuge.
That's prompted officials to close those waters to humans to safeguard the protected marine mammals.
Roughly 300 manatees have packed into the canal leading to the Three Sisters Springs at the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge. On Tuesday, officials instituted an emergency closure of the springs to activities such as swimming and kayaking so that the manatees would not be disturbed.
The closure may continue through Wednesday afternoon or longer. Visitor services specialist Ivan Vicente tells the Tampa Bay Times that the closure will continue to keep the manatees "undisturbed for as long as possible during this cold spell."
Manatees seek out warm waters when temperatures drop.