CRYSTAL RIVER — A record number of manatees were spotted at the Blue Waters on the Homosassa River during an aerial survey in Citrus County this week.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service counted 186 manatees gathered at the Blue Waters area — just outside Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park — beating the previous record of 156 seen in 2009. A total of 600 manatees were spotted in Citrus waters, with the majority, 397, in Kings Bay on the Crystal River.
Agency officials attributed the high numbers to the recent cold spell.
Also this week, federal and state wildlife officers captured a young, emaciated manatee in the Kings Bay sanctuary. The animal was transported to Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa for examination and treatment.