CRYSTAL RIVER (FOX 13) - Hundreds of manatees have been flocking to Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River for its warm waters.
The area is closed to swimmers and boaters, but viewing is open to the public. There will be a free opportunity to see the manatees at Three Sister's Springs on Saturday from 9 to 3 p.m. at a special open house.
The website said the trolley to the boardwalk is closed, but park officials told FOX 13 they are offering free bus service from King's Bay Plaza, located at the corner of Kings Bay Dr. and U.S. 19.
"Here in Crystal River, we have the most ideal place for them. They get cold when the water drops below 68 degrees in the Gulf. This is where they come," said visitor services specialist Ivan Vicente.
Sometimes up to 500 or more manatees can be seen just below the water's surface.
"We have animals that come as far from Texas, Alabama, Louisiana. That's summer over there. They come here in the winter months," Vicente said.
New video captured by a volunteer at Three Sisters Springs is going viral. It shows a manatee making a snack out of some Spanish moss.
"There's not much for them to eat in the springs, but when it's high tide, they can reach elevation points where there's vegetation," explained Vicente. "This is a secret that has become open to the world and many people come here to witness the magical connection between the manatees and the springs.'
Despite recent closures to swimmers at Three Sisters Springs, Miles Saunders with the Citrus County Visitor and Conventions Bureau says those are only temporary.
"The closures to swimmers at Three Sisters this winter are only periodic," he explained. "Generally the spring is open to swimmers at low tide when many manatees leave the spring."
Sunders also said that the current closures do not affect the rest of Kings Bay and other springs- like King, Tarpon, Jurassic and Hunters Springs -where manatees also aggregate in large numbers.