Noted at Blue Spring State Park since attendance records first began in 1970, Merlin earned the nickname “Tail-End Charlie,” as he often arrives late each year.
Merlin was among the manatees seen by Jacques Cousteau on a visit to Blue Spring State Park in 1970
When researchers started tracking the manatees at Blue Spring State Park in 1970, Merlin was one of the first manatees identified. In fact, he is one of the manatees seen by Jacques Cousteau when the famous explorer visited Blue Spring State Park in 1970. Merlin is about 10 feet long, which is average for a manatee. Sadly, what really distinguishes him from the other manatees are the scars he has on his head, as well as the many scars he has on his back and tail, which are from multiple boat hits. Named after the wizard featured in Arthurian legend, some might say that he has led a charmed life as he is lucky to have survived all those boat hits.
Shy around people, Merlin is still curious about the research canoe, which the researchers use to get a morning “nose count” on the manatees visiting the spring in the winter. He seems to like to explore and has been seen investigating throughout the spring run. In recent years, he has wintered at two springs to the north along the Upper St. Johns River and has visited Blue Spring sporadically. Because he has been known to arrive at Blue Spring late in the season, Wayne Hartley, Save the Manatee Club’s Manatee Specialist, calls him “Tail-End Charlie.” This is a nickname given to rear-gunners on British military aircraft during World War II. Manatees typically winter at Blue Spring from November through March, although their arrival and departure is temperature dependent. When he visits Blue Spring, Merlin sometimes does not appear until January.
During manatee season, check our Blue Spring webcams for updates on the latest news on Merlin and other Blue Spring manatees.