Wildlife officials closed the popular tourist destination Three Sisters Springs early this week, after an estimated 300 manatees were seen congregating at the site for warmth.
Three Sisters Springs in Florida remains a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit year round, serving as a literal hot spot for the protected creatures. The animals often arrive at the springs in high numbers on chillier days and nights.
"It's almost like a bear hibernating in a cave," Ivan Vicente, a visitor services specialist with the Fish and Wildlife Service, told CNN.
Through Wednesday morning, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service closed off access to the area, which is popular for swimmers and kayakers.
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Video of manatees outside Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River Florida this morning. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates about 300 manatees were using the spring as a warm water shelter this morning.Posted by Citrus County, Florida :: The Water Lover's Florida on Monday, February 8, 2016
An aerial survey conducted in January 2015 counted a record number of the species in the area.
During low tide, a total of 797 manatees were counted in the Citrus County area, beating the previous record of 657 in 2012.
In January 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed down listing the West Indian manatee from "endangered" to "threatened" citing improvements in populations and habitat conditions and a reduction in direct threats to the species.