Protect Manatees from Tourist Harassment

Manatees Swimming

Target: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Daniel M. Ashe

Goal: Close off areas populated by vulnerable manatees to over-eager tourists who may drive them to more dangerous waters.

Throngs of tourists regularly disturb fragile and vulnerable manatees as they seek warmer waters during winter. The Three Sisters Springs in Florida is a popular spot for manatees during the colder months, but unfortunately their presence draws human tourists to the area who want to swim and interact with these animals, unaware or uncaring of the stress it puts on them.

Manatees need space and distance from humans in order to feel at peace and be able to go about their lives as normal. Human refusal to give them this space is part of why they’re currently on the U.S. endangered species list and why they have been dying in record numbers in Florida during recent years. Those who are stressed out by human interference may leave safe, warm areas like the Three Sisters Springs and go to colder areas where it’s harder to find food and they must burn extra calories to stay warm, increasing the risk of starvation.

The Three Sisters Springs needs to be closed off to tourists. Currently, as many as 100 people may be in the water with the manatees, which is overwhelming for these animals in such a small space. If humans will not be considerate to the manatees’ needs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to act to protect them. Sign our petition to demand that the organization that is supposed to protect endangered animals does its job and closes off this area to humans.


Dear Director Ashe,

Manatees are currently under threat in Florida, dying off at record rates due to human interference and climate change. As they are an endangered species, it’s your job to make sure they get the protection they need to prevent their extinction. However, that protection is lacking at the Three Sisters Springs in Florida.

The Three Sisters Springs is a small spot, but it a chosen location by many manatees as a warm place to take shelter in during the cold months of winter. Unfortunately, this has made it a popular spot with tourists who want to swim and interact with these fragile creatures. The lack of space and harassment by these tourists causes stress for the manatees who may then choose to move to colder waters where they will experience even more stress and are at greater risk for unnecessary death.

The solution is simple. Because the Three Sisters Springs is too small to accommodate both humans and manatees, the area needs to be closed off to tourists. Humans have plenty of other places they can go to see and learn about manatees without harming them. Please do your job and protect manatees from unnecessary stress as they face possible extinction by making the Three Sisters Springs a safe place for them.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Ramos Keith

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  1. Kae Blecha, OTR says:

    Unfortunately, there is tourist money at play here, and Ashe is for sale.

  2. michael guest says:

    This has been going on too long. And it’s unfair. Feeding, touching, harassing, teasing, and getting too close to wildlife is illegal. You need to pass laws to protect manatees, and keep these refuges off-limits to humans.

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6211 Signatures

  • Janet Bushey
  • Sue Cugini
  • Colleen Newfield
  • Kjersti Gunnberg
  • Christine Petersen
  • Valerie Cranmer
  • Debra Rogers
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  • Cynthia Dietzmann
  • Christine McVarish
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