Thursday, February 4, 2010

Phoebe's First Manatee

Thursday, February 4, 2010
Phoebe's lifer West Indian manatee at Blue Springs State Park.

As soon as we got off the plane at the Orlando airport and secured our rental car, Phoebe and I took off after her most-wanted Florida experience: seeing a manatee. I knew from previous experience that Blue Springs State Park was one of the best places to find these gentle aquatic mammals, so that's where we headed (after a quick nosh at Steak & Shake!).

Sure enough, as soon as we parked the car and walked down to the edge of spring-fed Blue Springs Run where it meets the St. John's River, Phoebe added West Indian manatee to her mammal life list.

The park is a designated manatee refuge and the park's name (Blue Springs) is the reason the manatees are here in the winter. Warm water from the springs heats the river and manatees need warm water to survive. The very cold weather of early January had been hard on the manatees in this part of Florida.

We walked the boardwalk for the next two hours, looking at manatees, spotting birds, marveling at live oaks draped in Spanish moss, and drinking in the warm Florida sunshine.

That morning when we left Ohio, it was snowing hard with three inches of snow on the ground, temperatures dropping. So, though Floridians on the boardwalk were bundled up and decrying the cold snap, 68ºF felt like beach weather to us.

Me: "We're not in Ohio anymore, Phoebster!"
Phoebe: "Yeah and if we were, I'd be in algebra class right now!"

The happy manatee spotter, Phoebe Linnea.

Many of our birding pals at the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival made the pilgrimage to Blue Springs to see the manatees. We had a total of more than 20 manatees during our visit. It was as satisfying as it was awesome.


On February 4, 2010 at 3:28 PM Jim McCormac said...

Awesome experience. Thanks for sharing these strange, wondrous sea cows.

On February 4, 2010 at 9:24 PM Julie Zickefoose said...

Knowing that there are those with a huge hidden love for manatees, I offer this post, in which I got to feed and HUG manatees. That's my goal for the kids!

On February 4, 2010 at 11:42 PM Susan said...

Great heads up as we're heading to Florida next week, and will now add this park to the must see list...I've never seen a Manatee either.

On February 5, 2010 at 9:00 AM Anonymous said...

Been to Blue Springs before. Loved it! Love the smile on Phoebe's face.

On February 6, 2010 at 9:25 AM Baby Birder said...

It looks like you guys had a great time! I love the pictures of Phoebe enjoying her version of Disney World :) If you ever make it to the other coast in the Sarasota/Tampa area, you must visit Mote Marine Aquarium, they are a marine research/rehabilitation/aquarium with two resident manatees, many species of sea turtles, sharks, dolphins, etc. for more info. Glad you guys could have a winter warm up before this latest snow!

On February 7, 2010 at 5:44 PM mkircus said...

I paddled a loop of the St. John's river. leaving from the park and almost didn't get back before dark. I still haven't walked the park but its on my list of places to return to.