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Seeing manatees from your kayak is one of the most exotic experiences in Florida waters.  Once upon a time, sailors mistook these gentle animals - also known as sea cows - for mermaids. Living mainly in warm waters of the Caribbean and Florida, these mammals can achieve a weight of between 400 and 550 kilograms (about 880 to 1,210 lbs) and adult lengths of 2.8 to 3.0 meters long (nine to ten feet), with some individuals reaching 1,775 kilograms and 4.6 meters). Females tend to develop larger than males. Plant-earting manatees spend most of their lives resting and feeding, with a diet including turtle grass, algae, hydrilla, and up to 60 kinds of plants.

At present, many regions of the world have enacted laws to protect manatees, whose decline is due, as is that of many species, to humans - both because of development and run-ins with motorized watercraft.

Where Can You See the Manatees In The U.S?

Indubitably Florida, where as of February 2016, 6,250 were reported to be living. Popular destinations are the Crystal River and the Kings Bay area on the Gulf coast. From here you can kayak to Three Sisters Spring, where manatees gather every late fall through March to mate.

Tips on Kayaking with Manatees

When kayaking with manatees, the first thing you must remember that feeding them is strictly prohibited, as it distorts their natural behavior.  You should also observe them from a distance - do not touch, hold, grab, or ride the manatees. If a one is actively avoiding you, do not try to pursue it, or it will flee and become anxious. Move gently, not making any loud noises, and don't dive deep near them, as this will panic them; stay on or near the surface. And do not litter or otherwise pollute the area in which you are viewing them, as manatees are very sensitive to changes in environment.

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