Floridian Nature

Learn about Florida's beautiful and unique nature.





Florida Nature: Crystal River
West Indian manatees who winter in Crystal River FloridaCrystal River, located in Citrus County Florida, is located approximately 67 miles north of Tampa on the beautiful nature coast.  Often referred to as the “gem of the nature coast”, Crystal River is bordered by the Crystal River, the City’s namesake and Kings Bay, which has been classified by the State as an Outstanding Florida Water. The Crystal River is comprised of a network of more than 30 beautiful springs that begin at the northwest end of Kings Bay and travel west for about 6 miles entering into the Gulf of Mexico.

This area has always been a popular designation for fishing enthusiasts, including many celebrities.  During the pre- World War II era, Dazzy Vance, a famous baseball player who was actually from this area, brought his colleagues here to enjoy the sport of fishing.  One of his friends and colleagues was Babe Ruth.  Present day population has increased to over 3700 residents and has continued to be a popular tourist destination.

Located just north of the bustling Tampa Bay region, Citrus County is often called the Nature Coast  with over 98,000 acres set aside as federal, state, or county parks and preservation areas. Citrus County is currently the only place in the US where you can interact and swim with the West Indian manatee without that act being viewed as harassment by Law Enforcement. This endangered species makes Citrus County's spring fed rivers its wintering home. The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, was established in 1983 specifically for the protection of the endangered West Indian Manatee. This unique refuge preserves the last unspoiled and undeveloped habitat in Kings Bay, which forms the headwaters of the Crystal River. The refuge preserves the warm water spring havens, which provide critical habitat for the manatee populations that migrate here each winter.  



three sisters springs in Crystal River FloridaCitrus County is scallop country! Each year, seafood lovers bag the bay scallop found just offshore of Crystal River and Homosassa. People from all across the country come to the Crystal River area to join in the fun of harvesting scallops for a delicious meal. Scallop season opens July 1 and is a big draw for Floridians until it ends in September. Scallops are often on the bottom of seagrass beds or in places where the grass meets the bottom. It’s a great half-day activity for the family.

Crystal River has a wide variety of species in the area’s rivers, estuaries and grassy flats. Massive redfish, trout, tarpon, cobia, grouper and other species are all plentiful. With its enormous oak trees and  waterways, Citrus County resembles what most of Florida must have been like 100 years ago. The abundant wildlife  in Citrus County Florida can be found in the pristine waterways and along the shores. In Crystal River and the surrounding area, flocks of cranes and herons fly overhead, while schools of fresh and saltwater fish swim along side the Florida manatees and occasional alligator sunning on the banks. The coastal inlets and wetlands that surround Kings Bay and the Crystal River remain much like they would have appeared hundreds perhaps thousands of years ago. Citrus County is a sportsman’s paradise offering both fresh and saltwater fishing. In these clear waters, anglers are able to site-fish for small bass, sunfish, bluegill and stumpknockers. Many coastal species such as redfish, mangrove snapper and mullet are also common in the mouth and adjacent waters such as Kings bay.

Every second of every day, at least 100 cubic feet of water flow from an underground source into the nearby 45 ft. deep Homosassa Spring, amounting to more than 64 million gallons of water per day. The spring outflow creates Homosassa River, a 9-mile waterway to the Gulf of Mexico through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. Homosassa is said to mean “place where peppers grow” in a long-ago Native American language, and was a seasonal gathering place for nomadic tribes for many centuries.

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Crystal River, located in Citrus County Florida, is located approximately 67 miles north of Tampa on the beautiful nature coast. Crystal River is truly Floridian nature at its best. The winter home of the West Indian manatee, Crystal River is also home to great fishing, birding, canoeing, and scalloping.
Crystal River is currently the only place in the US where you can interact and swim with the West Indian manatee without that act being viewed as harassment by Law Enforcement. The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, was established in 1983 specifically for the protection of the endangered West Indian Manatee. This unique refuge preserves the last unspoiled and undeveloped habitat in Kings Bay, which forms the headwaters of the Crystal River. The refuge preserves the warm water spring havens, which provide critical habitat for the manatee populations that migrate here each winter.
Crystal River
Date published: 10/22/2013
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