Rumor had it that Blue Springs was the place to go to see manatees. So, off we went! Blue Springs is just outside of DeLand, FL on Hwy 17, north of Orlando. Blue Springs empties into St John’s River, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean. A week or so ago, freezing temp brought the manatees up into the springs. The count was around 300! We saw about 15 in the morning.
Manatees are air breathers. Their nostrils close when under water. They come up for air at least every 20 minutes. If they are more active, they come up more often. You can hear them exhale when they surface. They sound like a whale but they don’t make a spout like a whale does. Manatees are actually related to elephants. They have sparse hair on their body and 3 toenails on their front flippers. They are vegetarians.They are nicknamed “sea cows” because they graze on aquatic plants; eating 10% of their body weight per day. They have to move out into the river to eat every day. Boat propellers cause most of the injuries. They are slow moving but have very good hearing and can move out of the way of a slow moving boat. It’s the fast ones they have trouble with. See the propeller marks on the one below.
This is a dock where the tour boat loads. This group of various ages of manatees are swimming back and forth under the dock.
Swimming and scuba diving is allowed in the springs except during the winter months (Nov-Mar) to protect the manatees.
I was thrilled to see this group of 5! Mom has some propeller scars. She has 4 little ones with her. Two look small enough to be this year’s babies but I think they only have 1 per year? The other two are older. Babies stay close to mom for 2 years. I’m not sure if all 4 are hers but they sure stayed huddled close. Baby manatees weigh about 60 pounds at birth.