FWC completes habitat restoration near Warm Mineral Springs in Sarasota County

Hurricane Ian’s strike in 2022 delayed completion of work, which has been designed to help manatees

Photo by Katie Bryden for FWC

“The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has successfully completed restoration work downstream from Warm Mineral Springs in Sarasota County,” the agency has announced.

“The warm water flowing from the spring is of particular importance to manatees seeking shelter from cooler winter temperatures,” a news release explains.

FWC staff worked with partners of the agency “to overcome challenges,” including the arrival of Hurricane Ian on Florida’s Gulf Coast in September 2022, the release notes. Extreme flooding within the project area and surrounding property necessitated halting the initiative, “requiring significant debris removal and additional funding and time,” the release points out. “The project resumed in the spring of 2023,” the release adds. “It is anticipated that manatees will return to this enhanced warm-water site this winter,” the release says.

“While the creeks can be enjoyed by the public in spring and summer, this area is an FWC No Entry Zone from Nov. 15 to March 15,” the release stresses. “This restriction ensures that manatees can access the warm-water refuge upstream without disturbances from human activities, which can jeopardize their health by causing them to flee to colder waters,” the release explains.

No public viewing of manatees is offered at this warm-water site, the release says, but a list of where persons safely can view manatees at several other warm-water sites may be found by going to MyFWC.com/Education, clicking the “Learn About Wildlife” banner and then “Manatee” and “Where to See Manatees.”

“When observing manatees in any location,” the release notes, “always remember to give them space and watch from a distance for their safety and yours. Manatees are a protected species and it is illegal to harass, feed, disturb or harm them.”

Construction of the project “was funded by the Florida Legislature in response to the manatee Unusual Mortality Event on the state’s Atlantic coast and is the first to be completed using these funds,” the release adds. “Manatee habitat conservation and restoration is important in all areas of Florida,” the release points out. This project “will provide an important refuge for the southwest manatee population during the winter,” it says.

To learn more about some of the FWC’s priority manatee habitat restoration projects, visit MyFWC.com/AquaticHabitat. For more information about manatees, including the manatee Unusual Mortality Event on the Atlantic coast, visit MyFWC.com/Manatee.