“We had about 850 manatees out in Kings Bay one day earlier this year,” Engiles says. “The survey only has 6,500 in the whole state.”
Even in the off-season you're likely to find a handful of the gentle giants who decide Kings Bay is good enough for a permanent stay.
“We have about 30 to 60 manatees that live here year round, so operators are always running,” Engiles says. “You don’t see the number you do in the winter, in the summer the gulf is up around 90 degrees so they’re wherever they want to be eating. We only had two days last year where we didn’t see any.”
How many you see will vary from year to year. In 2015, for instance, Hunter Springs had a large number of manatees all summer long, but when a large dredging project started, the noises scared many of them off.