As a native New Yorker, I can vividly remember coming to this park for the very first time. Since manatee are not found anywhere north of South Carolina my Mom and Dad thought it would be nice to see these gentle giants upclose. They took us to Blue Springs State Park. Now...keep in mind, that I was from Brooklyn, where animals were only found in the zoo, and nature was considered the patch of grass that was out my front stoops. From the moment I walked onto the boardwalk and made my way to the edge of the spring, I was absoultley amazed #1 by the color of the water and #2 by these massive creatures floating in the water. I remember asking my Dad "What the heck is that?" so much so, that an older lady leaned over and said in her southern accent "It's a manatee sweetheart".
So what exactly is a manatee? Well...they are actually large marine mammals that can be found in either fresh or salt water. Not many marine animals share this ability, but this is a must for the manatee. During late spring, summer and early fall the manatee are found in the inlets, shallow coast line, and rivers throughout FL, once the temperatures of the water cool down, the manatee make there way to the springs. Manatee do not like the cold and since the springs are able to maintain a year around temperature of about 70 degrees this is the perfect second home for the manatee. For some reason, Blue Springs is the hotspot, they will converge on the area in hundreds, so much so, that the park does a count every morning and on this day there were 399 in the water. During this time the water is closed to all activities. The only thing to do at the park is picnic, hike, and check out the view.
Above you will see something interesting...here is a mother manatee and 2 of her calves. However...notice how one is much larger than the other. Manatee will produce 1 offspring every 2-5 years. Twins can happen, however are very rare. Typically the calf will remain with its Mother for up to 2 years. This could be a Mom with a calf from this season and a calf from a previous season. Here are a few other thing I bet you didn't know about the manatee.
- Male manatee can weigh anywhere from 800-1200 lbs.
- They can reach a length of about 10 feet.
- Manatee are herbivors
- They eat about 10% of their body weight daily.
- Manatee are on the endangered species list.
- Manatee have no known predators.
- Humans remain the #1 reason for mortality.
- Collisions with boats and propellers are the reason why.
- A female manatee is called a "Cow".
- A male manatee is called a "bull".
- They are typically found in 3-7 feet of water.
- They actually have very low body fat.
- They have an incredibly slow metabolic rate.
All information provided above was taken from this informative website.
See the entire park right here!
This park is not only a great place to visit during the winter months, but this park is amazing any time of the year. Once the temperatures start climb, you are sure to find many people enjoying this park for swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, and paddle boarding. You can even take a river tour at this park and rent boats. Tons of picnic pavilions, BBQ grills, volleyball, a playground and a historic home sets this park apart from most other state parks. If you have read any of my blogs in the past about the FL State Parks, then this is going to come as no surprise.
Get there early...once at capacity, the park will close.
As if there weren't enough things to keep you busy at this park. Blue Springs also has small rental cabins and a full campground complete with the capacity to not only accommodate tents but RV's too. Stay tuned for an updated blog post about the campground. For more information on renting either the cabins or a spot in the campground visit the state parks designated booking website. Just a note on that too...
Reserve your cabin or camping spot early. They book 11 months in advance.