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The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.
Established in 1983, Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is the only refuge created specifically for the protection of the threatened Florida Manatee, a subspecies of the West Indian Manatee. This unique refuge preserves the last unspoiled and undeveloped spring habitat in Kings Bay, which forms the headwaters of the Crystal River. The refuge preserves the most important aquifer fed spring havens in Kings Bay (King Spring and Three Sisters Springs), which provide critical habitat for the manatee populations that migrate here each winter. In addition to the establishment of Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, manatees are also protected in Kings Bay by seven federal manatee sanctuaries (November-March), and the designation (2012) of the entire Kings Bay area as the Kings Bay Manatee Refuge (or Kings Bay Manatee Protection Area). All three (the refuge, sanctuaries and protection area) are managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help protect nearly 600 manatees in Kings Bay each winter.