Club’s Live Manatee Webcams Debut
Today at Florida State Park
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For Immediate Release: January 17, 2012
Note: A high resolution image of Blue Spring manatees is available upon request as well as video footage.
Save the Manatee Club, the world’s largest manatee conservation organization, today announced the official debut of their new manatee webcams at Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Florida. Under water and above water cameras strategically located in the park’s spring run provide mass live streaming of endangered manatees and other amazing Florida wildlife seven days a week, year-round, just a computer key click away at www.savethemanatee.org/livecams.
Also, people who drive to Blue Spring to explore the park can watch the live webcams from a large TV screen in the Concession Courtyard area and view select webcam video footage. Much of each day’s live views are being archived for those who have missed it or if not much is happening on any given day. The intent is to always provide something interesting for viewers to see when visiting the livecams page. In order to see previously recorded live views, go to livestream.com/savethemanateecam.
In winter, wild manatees are found in Florida at warm-water sites such as natural springs and effluents of power plants, as they are a subtropical species and cannot tolerate prolonged exposure to water temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Blue Spring is one of the most important warm-water refuges for the Upper St. Johns River manatees, with a constant year-round temperature of 72 degrees.
“Our webcams at Blue Spring will give viewers who might never otherwise see a manatee the opportunity to view them up close, in real time, and to observe them in their natural environment,” said Patrick Rose, an aquatic biologist and Save the Manatee Club’s Executive Director. “It will help raise public awareness about manatees, garner thousands, perhaps millions of new fans around the world, and ultimately strengthen the connection between people and the state’s official marine mammal. Hopefully, people will come to understand the important role manatees play in the aquatic ecosystem. Further, webcams will offer very unique opportunities for additional research, as well as helping with preliminary health assessments of individual manatees who may be injured or sick and may need rescuing.”
Blue Spring Park Manager, Robert Rundle, is pleased with the addition of the webcams to the park. “I think the webcams provide a wonderful opportunity to view Blue Spring manatees from a remote location. This interactive experience will help educate students and other viewers to Blue Spring about its importance as a warm-water refuge for the manatees.”
Webcam visitors world-wide are able to watch manatees in the wild, including Blue Spring manatees featured in Save the Manatee Club’s popular Adopt-A-Manatee® program. Wayne Hartley, the Club’s Manatee Specialist, will provide narration for upcoming webcam projects. Hartley spent 31 years as a Blue Spring State Park ranger conducting research on the life histories of the manatees there. Since 2010, he continues his vital research as a member of the Club’s staff.
“I’m looking forward to engaging the many school classes who will now be able to visit the park during the morning manatee counts even if they aren’t at the park,” said Hartley. “Through many hours of observation, I can identify most of the manatees who winter in the spring run. They are like old friends, each with distinct personalities and antics.”
Manatees are listed as endangered at the international, national, and state levels largely due to human activity. The population is estimated to be about 5,000 concentrated year-round in Florida. According to preliminary figures from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 453 manatees died from all causes in 2011 – 88 from boat strikes and at least 112 from cold stress. In the last two record-setting years, a total of 1,219 manatees died from all causes.
“We are seeing a new trend over the last several years of much higher deaths from cold stress and no abatement in the numbers of manatees killed by boat strikes,” explained Rose. “These are the areas on which we must focus if we are to ultimately recover this species.”
Save the Manatee Club is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization, established in 1981 by world-renowned singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett and former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator, Bob Graham.
Internet service at the park is being provided as a donation from CenturyLink. The Club also wishes to thank their other partners including Axis Communications who provided cameras, Blue Springs Enterprises, Inc., Livestream, Midwest Surveillance, Royal “T” Systems, and TREC Services, Inc. A special thanks is extended to Robert Rundle, Blue Spring State Park Manager, and to everyone at the park who helped on the webcam project.
“We hope the public will visit the online webcam site often to observe, learn and appreciate just how unique, wonderful, and vulnerable these remarkable marine mammals are, and how both the manatees and the Blue Spring run are totally dependent on all of us for their future existences,” said Rose.
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