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A Study in Manatee

Friday February 28, 2014
Blue Spring State Park
Orange City,  Florida


It’s a bigger manatee morning than usual.

Last night it was colder than it has been for the previous few so we thought there might be more manatee.  On our morning manatee walk David counts 38 and the ranger says there are 60.  This is compared with 8 the day before.   The weather is the key.  The colder the night, the more manatee in the spring run in the morning.


Today I see a mother and calf and a rolling manatee at the river end of the spring run





The reflection of the trees and spanish moss overlays this manatee moving on toward the river for some breakfast grass.  I really like this picture.




Today the manatee have moved much further up the spring run.



We walk on up the spring run and stop at the 2nd swimming entry spot.  We haven’t found manatee up this far toward the spring any day prior to today. But given the cold night, we decide to look and sure enough. They also seem to be staying in the spring area later into the morning and playing around and investigating.  

We find several manatee very interested in the currently closed ladder into the spring.  When the manatee no longer spend the nights in the spring, it will be opened to swimming,  tubing snorkeling and diving.  But now the manatee are investigating the steps and swimming under them.  It seems as though they may be eating the algae.  Not sure about that but when they move under the steps, they stay quite a long time.








Look at the size of this one as he moves himself under the steps.






Last year, there were over 200 manatee on many days in the spring. 


So many manatee that I did a study in noses.  Today I am able to do it again though I don’t have nearly so many.   I just love them and their noses.   None of these is the same nose as best as I can tell.




















We go all the way to the spring head.  Who knows?


After collecting my nose pictures we move up to the head of the spring where there are only 3 or 4 manatee and they begin to move down stream while we are there.  Time to leave the warm and go get some breakfast I suppose.







Lest you think I notice nothing other than the manatee on my walk this morning…


I also see a pair of mating hawks.  Quite a flurry of activity.  My pictures of that activity are too blurred, other than this first one of someone left in an awkward position.  You didn’t really want to be a voyeur anyway now did you?   S/he has regained composure in the second picture.  And there is a greens munching bunny on the trail back to the campground.

But mostly this morning is about the manatee.









Our days are so full, I’m going to have to post the afternoon separately.  Preview: We get out on the St. John’s River for a paddle up to Hontoon Island State Park.   I believe it is the only one of Florida State Parks with a ferry of about 50 yards to it.  It’s way up the river for us and becomes a  race to the sunset.


  1. Great Pics, hope some are still there Monday when we drive over. Will you still be there?

  2. Beautiful, beautiful manitees! Even their noses. Great photos.

  3. Love that overlay picture of the manatee, too. I met my first one when I was about 14 years old while swimming in the Loxahatchee River in Florida. They called them sea cows back then. Having come from NY to work for a family that lived on the river, he/she scared me to death. It's nose right next to me in the water was memorable. :)

  4. The manatee are fascinating and you got some great pictures. Also of the birds and bunny.

  5. First it was animal's eyes. Now it's manatee's noses. I can't wait to see what's next...

    Do I dare look? :cD

  6. Loved your manatee photos -- I am Looking forward to seeing the manatees in FL next week -- will be in the Jacksonville/St Augustiine area from Monday until Friday next week

  7. I like the manatee overlay picture. It's so unusual.

    We've seen them under that ladder too, and also burrowing in the side in the mud. I also think they were looking for food.

    You certainly have busy days.

  8. I am hoping it will start to warm up so we can see some manatee back here again. We should see them as they migrate back down to open water.

  9. I could watch the manatees all day. They are so graceful for their size. I can't believe that big one even fit under the ladder! Good that you got to paddle up the river, anxious to read about it.

  10. Nice photos, someday we hope to get to FL at least for one winter.

  11. I think I would make an excellent manatee. I love the water, am vegetarian and am shaped like a manatee. The hawk is lovely.

  12. Manatee are huge! That is great there are so many - impressive indeed how they love Blue Springs. Nice nose collage :) The hawk lady looks very regal - definitely feels closer to Spring there than here for sure. I like the manatee pictures where the water looks green - beautiful.

  13. wonderful photos of the manatees and all things nature….very beautiful!

  14. I 'shutter' to think how many shots it must have taken to get all those nose pictures. They are usually back in the water by the time my camera captures the image. Great shooting!


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