Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge.
Crystal River/Kings Bay is the second largest springs group in Florida, with more than 70 springs scattered within the 600-acre bay. The springs are the headwaters of Crystal River, which is a short, tidal river that flows seven miles from the headsprings to where it meets the Gulf of Mexico at Crystal Bay in Citrus County, Florida.
A refuge is an ecological region such as a water shed or specific habitat. This area, with it's consistent 72 degrees Fahrenheit in winter, is crucial for the West Indian Manatee. Manatees gather where seagrass beds and freshwater vegetation are abundant. In the winter months, they concentrate in Florida. In the summer they can be found from Texas in the south to as far north as Massachusetts.
Dolphin are also abundant in the waters surrounding Florida; in the Atlantic to the East and in The Gulf of Mexico to the west. Dolphins are playful, intelligent and very social mammals. They swim in pods which serve several purposes.
The pod formation serves to protect its' members, helps in corralling food and in breeding. When corralling fish they use powerful sound blasts and tail slaps.
Dolphins are known for the clicking sound they make which, contrary to belief, is not a form of communicating. It's a sonar system used for navigation, avoiding predators and locating food. The squawking sound they make is a form of communication and the use of pure tones is a type of whistling.
Touring Florida's Nature Coast is a daily wonder. You never know what magnificent creatures you might see.
Birds and other mammals you might see along the river banks include the Limpkin. It feeds on the snail and is found along the edges of the springs and spring runs.
The White Ibis congregate in small flocks. They can be found near the edges of head springs and spring fed rivers eating snails and small invertebrates.
River photo, US Fish & Wildlife
photo from Discover Florida Nature
Amazing Dolphins video; John Shiloh
Dolphins laughing from Ducksters
Blue Heron, Florida Conservation site
Limpkin & White Ibis, FlaSpring.org