Finding Manatees Anna Maria Island

Perhaps one of Florida’s most interesting aquatic mammals, Manatees have an unusual and fascinating story to tell. This information page is to help with finding Manatees around Anna Maria Island.

Manatees enjoy life at the Mote Marine Lab and Aquarium in Sarasota, Fl. Picture credit:

Manatees around Anna Maria Island

The Florida Manatee is a large grayish brown mammal with thick wrinkly skin often covered in algae. They grow to be 10-12 feet in length weighing up to 1,800 pounds, and may live 60 years in the wild. Manatees have a powerful flat tail that propels them through the water. Their front flippers are used to steer them, and occasionally they may use them to crawl along the water bottom or pull themselves partially on land to reach non submerged plant foods. Manatees have small eyes and no outer ear, but this doesn’t stop them from seeing and hearing well.

A Herbivore

Manatees are herbivores with a diet consisting of sea grass and freshwater vegetation. Because of their massive intake of sea grass, manatees play an important role in keeping waterways clear of overgrowth. Manatees have specialized molars to aid in chewing the large amounts of food they require to survive. Manatee Molars may wear down, fall out, and are often replaced through out their life.

It is estimated that about 5,000 individuals of the species remain in the wild. Manatees are threatened by boat strikes, pollution, and loss of habitat due to development and increased traffic in Florida waterways.

Manatees prefer water above 68 degrees Fahrenheit and often spend winter in warmer areas such as springs and power plant discharge basins. More commonly Manatees can be found in shallow bays, rivers, estuaries, canals and intercoastal waterways avoiding rougher deep waters like the Gulf of Mexico.

They are typically gentle slow moving creatures, however; when playing and during mating season they may barrel role and thrash in shallow water making a great scene.

Sighting Manatees in the wild can prove to be tricky as their population becomes smaller, but is always a welcome treat. These aquatic relatives of the elephant are majestic and surprisingly graceful in water. When entering their ecosystem be sure to show a great deal of respect to the animal to ensure future success of the species. When boating or participating in water activities always be sure to follow signs indicating speed limits and the presents of Manatees. Wear polarized sunglasses to aid in seeing Manatee grazing in shallow water. Always be sure to keep trash out of water ways and never allow monofilament fishing line to becoming lost in the water.

Manatees at Mote Marine and South Florida Museum

In addition to finding Manatee in the wild there are a few spots near Anna Maria Island to see Manatees up close in captivity. The South Florida museum, located at 201 10th Street West in downtown Bradenton, has the worlds oldest Manatee in captivity, Snooty. Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, located at 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway in Sarasota, also has a manatee exhibit.

Watch out for Manatee when boating

Manatee are not uncommon to the waters surrounding Anna Maria Island, and many have been observed in our shallow canals, bays, and have even been spotted in Gulf waters on rare occasion.

If you are nearing the end of your Anna Maria Island vacation and it is winter time then we suggest you take a trip North to Apollo Beach.  The Manatees hang out at the power station because of all the warm water discharged from the power station. The Tampa power station has created a Manatee Viewing area for visitors.  Just a quick 50 minute drive from the island. If the temperature is below 75 Farenheit you likely wont be disappointed with your trip.  Ok, maybe it is tough to cut into your beach time to take the trip?  Even better, visit the Manatee CAM at Apollo Beach.  You can zoom in and out when it is your turn and you can see Manatees on your computer!

A truly unique animal, Manatees are a precious part of Anna Maria Island.

Born in 1948, Snooty the Manatee is the oldest Manatee in captivity. Photo Credit:

Looking for an Anna Maria Island vacation rental home situated right in the middle of Manatee territory? Island Real Estate has you covered! “Jackie’s Cottage” is a vacation destination with great Manatee Sightings.

Canal front vacation rental
Jackie’s Cottage is a canal front home often visited by Manatees!

Sea Lions: On the Water’s Edge at Mote Marine Aquarium

Sea Lions: On the Water’s Edge

We are sorry, this exhibit is now closed however the Mote Marine Laboratory hosts special guests on a fairly regular basis.  Visit Mote Marine’s website for more information on educational events.  Sea Lions at Mote Marine ran up until May 1, 2013.  Sea Lions: On the Water’s Edge was a temporary exhibit running in The Aquarium featuring a trio of Patagonian sea lions who are very comfortable in the spotlight. This thirty minute show ran three times a day, seven days a week at 11:30am, 1:30pm, and 3:30pm. Admission is included in the regular Mote Marine ticket price, so you can enjoy all that Sarasota’s famous marine research center and aquarium has to offer – including some new sea lion themed features and goodies in the gift shop.

In between performances of Sea Lions: On the Water’s Edge be sure to check out all the regular features at Mote Marine including a sting ray touch tank, shark tanks, sea turtles and manatee rehabilitation hospitals.  At the time of this post the admission is $19 for adults, $18 for seniors 65 and older, $14 for ages 4-12, and free for children under 3 years old.  Visit the Mote Marine for accurate rates.

Sea Lions: On the Water’s Edge was a charming, family friendly and educational performance, which keeps the little ones so enthralled they won’t even realize they’ve learned something when it’s over. Sea lions are members of the pinned family, which means “flipper footed” and includes seals, sea lions, and walruses. This narrated demonstration will teach you all about their natural athleticism, intelligence, and playfulness while also educating audiences on rescue and conservation efforts. This is a real treat for Anna Maria Island visitors and native Floridians alike.  As most know, there are no sea lions to be found in the Gulf of Mexico. They must not have heard how pristine and peaceful our beaches are.

The sea lions at Mote Marine, affectionately referred to as “the girls”, are Stella, Rose, and Kitty. And they have a wide variety of tricks to show off including hand stands, back flips, and some rather impressive dance moves. But they haven’t let show business go completely to their head – after the show is over, you’ll have the opportunity to cuddle up with these friendly marine mammals and have your picture taken. They do have one rule – “don’t touch the sea lions, let the sea lions touch you”. Prints are available, at any extra cost, in three different sizes.

Anna Maria Island, Florida is the world’s favorite place to vacation and that seems to have extended to our flipper footed friends as well! Be sure to stop by Mote Marine and check out Sea Lions: On the Water’s Edge before they head back home at the end of April. We’re sure this educational show will gain your own seal of approval!

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium
1600 Ken Thompson Parkway
Sarasota, FL 34236

Mote Marine Laboratory Aquarium in Sarasota, FL

Mote Marine Laboratory Aquarium is located in north Sarasota a short drive from Anna Maria Island. The Aquarium is a wonderful day-trip full of fun activities for everybody.  Enjoy the touch pools, working labs and high tech interactive exhibits! Mote marine also has weekly shark-feedings that are fascinating to watch. You can even book an Eco boat tour during your visit. There is plenty to do and see at this wonderful non-profit organization.

Mote Marine Laboratory Aquarium
Mote Marine Laboratory Aquarium offers a variety of Florida marine life to discover.

Mote Marine Laboratory Aquarium

The entire facility is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m daily including all holidays.

Mote Marine has two buildings filled with Aquariums along with a shark tank, turtle tank and an Otter exhibit. You will need to walk across a street to see all the areas so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

Also consider stopping at the Save our Seabirds (SOS) facility located in between the two Mote facilities. Admission is half price with a Mote Marine ticket. Ticket sales go to help this great organization rehabilitate injured wildlife.

Check out Mote’s website for daily events and activities for the entire family! Island Real Estate also has more information on aquariums close to Anna Maria Island.

Mote Marine Laboratory Aquarium
Mote Marine has Sea Turtles like this Loggerhead to see during your visit!

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium
1600 Ken Thompson Parkway
Sarasota, FL 34236
(941) 388-4441