Description - Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is a critical habitat for the West Indian manatee. The crystal-clear springs maintain the necessary water temperatures required for this tropical species. Environmental education specialists offer interesting insights to its visitors. In addition, the refuge provides a limited recreation site for boating, fishing, and wildlife viewing.
Copyright: - US Fish and Wildlife Service
Public Domain: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
- Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is a compilation of 20 islands and several small tracts encircled by the spring-fed waters of Kings Bay. The refuge is a favorite winter home of the endangered West Indian manatee. This refuge was created primarily for the purpose in protecting this docile mammal. It aids in preserving Florida's most significant naturally occurring warm water refugium for the manatee and provides critical habitat for approximately 25% of the nation's endangered Florida manatee population.
Six hundred million gallons of fresh water flow daily from more than 30 natural springs. The temperature of the water flowing from the springs remains a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Manatees, being a tropical species, cannot survive for extended periods when water temperatures fall below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. These warm water springs are essential for manatee survival.
Recreation - Visitors to Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge will find boating, fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities. The refuge also permits water sports and the staff offers environmental education programs. Historians will want to note that several miles west is Crystal River State Archaeological Site where visitors may view prehistoric artifacts. Bicyclists will find the trailhead to the Withlacoochee Meander Bicycle Route located in the state archaeological site. This bike route is a 120-mile junket that winds in and around three tracts of the Withlacoochee State Forest. Most roads are well paved. Canoeing and hiking opportunities branch from the bike route.
Climate - Winters in west central Florida are normally mild with occasional temperatures dipping into the 30's and 40's Fahrenheit. However, averages range between 52 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit (11 - 18 Celsius). Summers are normally hot and muggy with temperatures and humidity usually exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Averages range between 81 and 83 degrees (27 - 29 Celsius). Precipitation for the central west area ranges between 52 and 56 inches per year.
Located in western Citrus County, next to the town of Crystal River consisting of twenty islands and several small parcels of land surrounded by the crystal clear, spring-fed waters of Kings Bay.