Just Florida Things: Blue Spring State Park
Since we enjoy gorgeous weather most of the year here in Florida, Justin and I tend to hole up indoors for the few weeks of the year that qualify as 'winter.' This particular weekend, though, the days were to be sunny with the highs in the 70s. The more balmy forecast combined with the low overnight temperatures drew us out of the house, in search of adventure... and manatees.
When temperatures drop, manatees go in search of warmer water. In Florida, they can find it in protected springs where the water remains at a crisp, tolerable 72 degrees. We are lucky to live close to one of these: Blue Spring State Park, roughly an hour north of Orlando.
I had read online that the highest count this year had been over 400! But it was already mid-March and the days mostly warm again, so the likelihood of spotting any was rapidly reducing. The sign at the entrance showed 65 manatees had been spotted so far this morning – a good sign.
We started our hike at the end of the boardwalk that runs alongside the spring. As I was photographing a couple of Cormorants, we spotted some sea cow-sized splashing.
“Well, we saw some manatees, let’s go home,” Justin half-joked. He is not really an early-morning, let’s-go-hiking kind of guy…
At the next overlook, there was a small group of people enthralled with something in the water. We jockeyed for a spot, me holding the camera, Justin holding Mischka. What looked like all 65 manatees were right before our eyes!
I had just been reading online about 2 manatees recently released and we saw both trackers bobbing along with their hosts. Regularly, we saw little gray noses poking up for air, along with an occasional full head. Rounded tails, some chipped away and scarred flipped out of the water. One manatee even ventured right up by the overlook. Suddenly, a Cormorant flew away, startling several manatees into a massive splashing frenzy. We are regular patrons of zoos, aquariums, marine parks, and animal rescue centers, but it is so exciting to see these animals in their natural habitat.
We walked the entire boardwalk and spotted another family of 3 manatees down at the end, near the underwater cave. I made an unsuccessful bid to get Justin to buy me a stuffed manatee at the gift shop. And we walked all the way back (since the trail is not a loop, after all), with a brief stop at the grand old house on the hill. Fixed up a little, with maybe a more open concept and some insulation, I could see us living there! By that point, even the dog was tired, and we headed home, the day’s adventure a great success!
Have you been to Blue Spring State Park? How about Crystal River? Tell us in the comments!
Also, if you enjoy our stories and photos, follow us on Facebook and Instagram!
Our Favorite Photos from the Trip:
Top Tips & Notes for Next Time: