CRYSTAL RIVER — Officials with the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge on Tuesday morning instituted an emergency closure of Three Sisters Springs to safeguard the about 300 manatees that had packed into the canal that leads to the springs.
The closure will remain in effect until at least midday today — possibly longer — to "keep them undisturbed for as long as possible during this cold spell,'' said Ivan Vicente, visitor services specialist for the agency.
The springs normally are busy with activities such as swimming and kayaking.
An aerial survey of manatees in the area is slated for today, and Vicente predicted a possible record number due to the cold weather. The record is 567 manatees in Citrus County waters.