The following article is a post from the Florida State Parks January newsletter and is provided here on Florida Nature Guide to assist our vistors seeking mantee viewing opportunities in the state. The events listed are in January, but those who are unable to attend will find the rest of the article helpful particularly with the cool winter water temperatures.
Seeing Manatees in Florida’s State Parks
~Watching and learning about the gentle giants leads to their protection~
Although 70 degree waters might feel a bit chilly to humans, it’s warm for manatees.
Through March, manatees tend to seek warmer water temperatures and Florida’s springs are one of their favorite destinations. With several springs located within state parks, visitors can easily view the manatees, which sometimes congregate by the dozens, in a number of locations. Some of the most popular spring gathering locations among the wintering manatees include those found at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Homosassa, Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park south of Tallahassee, Fanning Springs State Park in Fanning Springs and St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park in Fellsmere.
For a closer look, one of these events might be of interest.
- Saturday, Jan. 14 – Manatee Awareness program at Manatee Springs State Park in Chiefland. With the cooler weather, the featured guest will be the manatee, along with partners in manatee protection awareness, education and enforcement. Various agencies will set up displays so visitors can enjoy learning about the gentle giants and how to protect them. Manatee Spring, the head spring at Manatee Springs State Park, emits mineral-rich water at a constant 72 degrees which provides a warm water haven for the manatee when the river’s temperatures decrease below 68 degrees. $6 per vehicle, up to eight people.
- Saturday, Jan. 28 – Manatee Festival at Blue Spring State Park in Orange City. Bring the whole family and enjoy a day of arts, crafts, dancing, shows, games, food, face painting and more. Main activities are in Valentine Park with a shuttle bus available to enter Blue Spring State Park. Inside Blue Spring view manatees, learn about local environmental clubs, observe 1800s artisans and more. Proceeds from this fundraising event go to support Friends of Blue Spring State Park.