In 1991, Phyllis gave birth to twins—a rare event for manatees
In general, the reproductive rate for manatees is low. One calf is usually born every two to five years, and twins are rare. For this reason, it was very exciting when Phyllis arrived at Blue Spring on November 5, 1991, with not just one, but two calves! Her twin boys were named Bartram and Bertram after a famous Florida explorer of the nearby St. Johns River and a noted manatee researcher. Both calves are quite grown up now! Phyllis has had over fifteen calves since then, even giving birth at Blue Spring State Park in August 2020. When her own calves are not keeping her busy, she regularly nurses other young manatees. This is not unusual, as female manatees will often look after and nurse the calves of other mothers.
Phyllis is a regular visitor to Blue Spring during the cold winter months, and she usually comes in more often than the other manatees. In fact, she has earned the title of “Attendance Champion” several times. That means she put in more appearances at the morning “roll call” (when Wayne Hartley, the SMC Manatee Specialist, counts and identifies the manatees) than any other manatee that season. Phyllis has been known to put in 40 to 50 visits each winter. From time to time, she will even come to visit the spring during the summer months. While at the park, Phyllis is a playful, friendly manatee who likes to socialize with other manatees.
During manatee season, check our Blue Spring webcams for updates on the latest news on Phyllis and other Blue Spring manatees.