Ariel was just two weeks old when she was rescued with her mom, Amanda. She lifts her head out of the water to "smile" at manatee education program visitors.
Rescued as a calf with her mother, Ariel is curious and social
When Ariel was just a few weeks old, she was rescued with her mother Amanda in Lake Worth Inlet, located along Florida’s southeastern coast. It was Christmas Day 1973, and Amanda had been hit by a boat and had bad injuries caused by the boat’s propeller. Luckily, Ariel was not injured, but she was too young to be separated from her mother. Calves are dependent on their mothers for up to two years, nursing and learning all the things necessary to survive, like where to find food and warm water. The pair was rescued together, and Amanda was nursed back to health. In 1986, they were both moved to the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Homosassa, Florida. Sadly, Amanda died in 2011 during a medical procedure, but Ariel still lives at the park. She shares the space with another permanent resident named Betsy, who happens to be Ariel’s sister. The park also serves as a temporary home for manatees in rehabilitation, so the duo sometimes assist in keeping those manatees company as they recover.
Ariel is large for a female manatee, tipping the scales at nearly 2,300 pounds the last time she was weighed. In the wild, manatees average about 1,200 pounds, and females are typically larger than males. She is also a curious and playful manatee, on one occasion even locating a lost shoe and pushing it around the spring to play with it. She is fond of popping her head up above the water to observe visitors as well as park staff when they are talking during the manatee education programs. When not attending the programs, Ariel and Betsy enjoy spending their days exploring the spring run and watching the park visitors in the Fish Bowl underwater observatory.
From March to November, check our Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park live webcams to see Ariel and Betsy at the park.