Adoptees Enjoy Cool Spring During Sweltering Summer

Betsy glides over the Homosassa main spring on a humid summer morning. Photo courtesy of Kate Spratt, HSWSP.
Betsy glides over the Homosassa main spring on a humid summer morning. Photo courtesy of Kate Spratt, HSWSP.

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park Adoption Update

By Kate Spratt, Park Services Specialist, HSWSP

We are amid the sweet heat of summer here in Homosassa and everyone feels it! Birds are resting on limbs swaying with the breeze, panthers snooze under the shade of grand oaks, and otters lounge on a floating platform. Visitors are finding refuge on shaded benches scattered throughout the park. But our resident manatees have the best place to beat the heat—in the spring!

All four of our resident manatees—Ariel, Betsy, Heinz, and Shantay—are enjoying the cool waters of the spring and spring run. Ariel and Betsy are always the first to show up to greet visitors at the manatee programs held near the Underwater Observatory. Heinz takes her lettuce from the “Salad Bar” to a shallower area of the spring to eat, and Shantay barges right into the middle of the feeding area. A visitor recently observed a jumping mullet splash around the main spring boil and startle one of our manatees! I can only imagine who was more surprised—the fish or the manatee!

One common question we get is how much food manatees eat daily. Wild manatees eat about 10% of their body weight, so around 100 pounds of food. Our resident manatees don’t have to look for their food and don’t expend as much energy, meaning they need less food. Still, they currently consume nearly 400 pounds of lettuce each day! Feedings happen throughout the day to mimic how they would graze in the wild. Interested in seeing how they eat? Come visit one of our two daily manatee programs (11 a.m. and 1 p.m.) to learn more!

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