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Manatee Sighting Blog

Wayne Hartley, Manatee Specialist, and Cora Berchem, Director of Multimedia and Manatee Research Associate, take "roll call" on a cold winter morning at Blue Spring State Park. Photo courtesy David Schrichte.
Wayne Hartley, Manatee Specialist, and Cora Berchem, Director of Multimedia and Manatee Research Associate, take "roll call" on a cold winter morning at Blue Spring State Park. Photo courtesy David Schrichte.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The river temp was down to 62.4°F (16.9°C). The manatee count should have gone up but it went down. I think they know it is going to get a little warmer the next few days. We counted 609 manatees and ID’d Save the Manatee Club adoptees HowiePaddy Doyle, Brutus, Nick, Philip, Deep Dent, Lily, Gator, Lenny, Margarito, Annie, Una, Phyllis, Whiskers, Moo Shoo, and Doc. We have a second alligator sighted this season. An eight-footer has been in the last three days. That is far more normal than none. Now if the tarpon would start using the top half of the run instead of just the lower. Manatees and tarpon in the boil make for nice pictures!

Wayne & Cora

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

The river temp was 64.2°F (17.9°C). The mist was coming off the run very thick. Because of this, the count, which is always a bit of an estimate, was more of an estimate today. Manatees were thickest near the river but were wall to wall in several other parts of the run. We even had quite a few in the boil. The wind was very still and the run clear once we got away from the area near the river. As a result, we ID’d an enormous number of manatees. At least 279 out of 668 manatees. The Save the Manatee Club adoptees were Nick, Paddy Doyle, Howie, Lily, Philip, Floyd, Gator, Phyllis, Whiskers, Moo Shoo, Deep Dent, and Brutus. Brutus was seen by Cora after the count from the boardwalk as she looked for some friends. The week ahead looks good for manatee viewing!

 Wayne & Cora

Monday, February 19, 2024

It was very rainy all weekend and the rain continued into the morning but finally let up.

The river temperature from the gauge in Deland (where we can look it up online) said 65.8°F (18.8°C) at 8 a.m. At 1 p.m., it had dropped to 63.5°F (17.5°C). Either something is wrong with the gauge, or the river really quickly dropped. Regardless, park staff counted 389 manatees and I counted 336 while it was still drizzly and there was lots of fog coming off of the spring run, making IDing rather difficult. After the count was over, a big palm tree fell into the water at the boil and provided an immediate buffet for the manatees who gravitated to it. Park staff and I went to go check everything was ok—it was. I probably identified as many manatees while paddling back to check as I ID’d during the entire recorded count.

The adoptees in today were Brutus, Annie, Paddy Doyle, Moo Shoo, Gator, Una, Lily, and Nick.

~Cora

Thursday, February 15, 2024

The river temperature was back up to 66.5°F (19.2°C) which was a bit surprising as the air temperature has not really been very warm. The park counted 71 manatees and I counted 160 which was quite the difference, so I made sure to add everything up twice to double-check and also check how many I was able to identify. I ID’d over 100, making me believe that there must have definitely been that many. The conditions were great for counting, but there was a lot of manatee movement with them coming and going, so it is very possible that more came in after the park staff had finished their count. Annie and Una were the adoptees seen today.

~Cora

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The river temp started back down and was at 65.8°F (18.8°C). We counted 83 manatees, none Save the Manatee Club adoptees. Maybe tomorrow.

Wayne & Cora

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

The river temp took a big jump to 66.6°F (19.2°C). We counted 25 manatees; some were going out, some were coming in, and some were just doing circles near the river. Few were up the run. None were Save the Manatee Club adoptees. In other environmental news, Cora spotted one alligator this season and that is the only one we’ve seen. Normally, we might see three to five on a roll call. I mentioned tarpon earlier. They have moved halfway up the run and no further. Usually we have wonderful photos of them all season in the Boil. The winter has been wetter than usual so the river has been higher. Perhaps that explains why.  Remember, if the manatees are not in their refuges, then they are in the waterways. Watch for them if you are boating!

Wayne & Cora

Monday, February 12, 2024

The river temp was up to 62.8°F (17.1°C), and manatee numbers have declined. We counted 42 manatees and none were Save the Manatee Club adoptees. The warming trend appears to be shorter than predicted, hopefully we will see more manatees and more adoptees soon!

Wayne & Cora

Friday, February 9, 2024

The river temp was 61.9°F (16.6°C) so it was cooler than yesterday. But instead of going up, the number of manatees went down. I guess they know it is getting warmer. We counted 431 manatees. We had a good group of Save the Manatee Club adoptees. We saw Una, Brutus, Lily, Paddy Doyle, Philip, Deep Dent, Phyllis, Moo Shoo & calf, Rocket, and Aqua. Whiskers was in yesterday but not mentioned. For those who remember, adoptee Success had four calves. Success and her two girls are gone now but the boys are still alive. We had not seen Success’ calf Cinna since the 2021–22 season. It was good to see him back again.

Wayne & Cora

Thursday, February 8, 2024

The river temp was 62.2°F (16.8°C). Media was in to film so I paddled them around and did what I could research-wise. Cora got a count from the boardwalk and I will use it. 492 manatees were counted. The Save the Manatee Club adoptees in were Paddy Doyle, Philip, Phyllis, Brutus, Lenny, Aqua, and Lily. Looking ahead, more warm weather is on tap so the counts should go down.

Wayne & Cora

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Today was the mass release of five manatees at the park. Two of the releases were rescued from Blue Spring and now they are back! They were greeted by over 500 manatees who were in the run today. The river was 62.4°F (16.9°C), which was enough reason to be in the run. Cora saw Save the Manatee Club adoptee Paddy Doyle.

I parked and then walked over to the run by the white house and saw Lily. Then I walked down to the big platform over the water and there, up against the corner of the platform under the webcam, was Brutus! That was a surprise. Participating in the release today were the Florida Park Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, SeaWorld Orlando, Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, Save the Manatee Club, Columbus Zoo, Georgia Aquarium, Brevard Zoo, Volusia County, and Texas State Aquarium Wildlife Rescue. Also many media outlets were present.

Wayne & Cora

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

The river temperature this morning was 62.6°F (17°C) and the winds were up to gusts of 25 mph. Not an ideal day to count or identify manatees. The park counted 170 manatees, and SMC counted 165 from the canoe—that was extremely close given the poor conditions! The only adoptee in today was Lily.

~Cora

Monday, February 5, 2024

The river temp has been rising. Today it was 63.3°F (17.4°C). We only counted 158 manatees and none were Save the Manatee Club adoptees. However, it looks like the weather is going to cool and the rest of the week will be better for manatee viewing!

Wayne & Cora

Friday, February 2, 2024

The river temp was 62.6°F (17°C). That is warmer than yesterday, but still quite cold so manatees continued coming in. We counted 552 manatees, among them Save the Manatee Club adoptees Nick, Paddy Doyle, Howie, Philip, Deep Dent, Floyd, Gator, Lily, Rocket, Una, and Whiskers. We are continuing to get new arrivals for the season.

Wayne & Cora

Thursday, February 1, 2024

The river continued to get cooler, to 61.9°F (16.6°C). The mist off the run was there again today, but not as bad as yesterday. We counted 491 manatees and the park counted 580 manatees. I think it was a good day for a boardwalk count. The Save the Manatee Club adoptees we saw were Howie, Paddy Doyle, Philip, Lily, Una, Gator, Phyllis, Floyd, and Moo Shoo. Moo Shoo was mixed in with over fifty other manatees so we did not see her calf to note it but the calf was undoubtedly in the mix somewhere!

Wayne & Cora

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

The river temp was 62.4°F (16.9°C) so it is getting colder. The park counted 280 manatees in a heavy mist with more manatees coming in. We counted 312 manatees with the mist rising and even more manatees coming in. We saw Save the Manatee Club adoptees Phyllis, Gator, and Annie. Then we waited a while and released a manatee from down south who had been re-rescued, in the hopes that she will do better up here. Aside from SMC, SeaWorld Orlando, the Florida Park Service, CMARI, and FWC participated.

Wayne & Cora

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Foggy today, and the mist off the run was thicker than any day this season. The river temp was 63.7°F (17.6°C). We counted 135 manatees and the park counted 149 manatees. In spite of the mist, we saw Save the Manatee Club adoptees Lily, Annie, Phyllis, Gator, Moo Shoo, and Howie. Gator was especially good to see, as he has been gone for weeks. No attendance championship for Gator this season! We did get reports of him in other springs, so that was some consolation.

Wayne & Cora

Monday, January 29, 2024

The manatee festival is over, and the manatees are back! It got cold overnight; however, the river temperature only dropped slightly to 65.8°F (18.8°C). The park staff counted 42 manatees and SMC counted 68. The only adoptee present today was Nick. Most manatees were close to the river still and the wind started to pick up to the predicted 17 mph gusts, so there was not much lingering after the count was over to identify more manatees. We expect many more for the rest of this week!

~Cora

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Second day of the Manatee Festival and the river temp was 66.4°F (19.1°C). I saw 22 manatees and none were Save the Manatee Club adoptees. Ten days ago, we found a manatee in trouble halfway up the run. It was emaciated and behaving lethargically. We got a rescue underway but before the rescue team could arrive, the manatee was gone. We searched for the manatee for some time, and every day thereafter we watched for them but they did not appear. Yesterday afternoon, they were found in the St Johns River near the park. The cause of death is not determined at this time. On a happier note, a review of the calves I have seen has raised the number of calves to 92. The previous record number of calves was set last year at 87 and we should see more before season end! The cold is returning, hopefully with more manatees and some adoptees.

Wayne

Saturday, January 27, 2024

The first day of the Orange City-Blue Spring Manatee Festival, and the river was up to 64.9F (18.3C). I counted thirty manatees and none were Save the Manatee Club adoptees! As it is in the eighties, I have little hope for tomorrow, but the manatees we had stayed visible all day. Plus, I found many people were fascinated by the nesting tilapia just behind the manatee viewing platform.

Wayne

Friday, January 26, 2024

The river had warmed up to 63.5°F (17.5°C) and the manatee count dropped accordingly to 59. No adoptees were seen today, but adoptee Annie made an appearance late yesterday afternoon.

Also yesterday, a new manatee joined our Blue Spring population; her name is Churro. Churro was rescued with her mother “Reckless” in May 2022, when Reckless suffered from a catastrophic watercraft injury to her left shoulder. Churro was estimated to only be a few days old. The pair was brought to SeaWorld Orlando for rehabilitation and, after 20 months of expert care, was released last week in South Florida by partners of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership. Both manatees were outfitted with satellite tracking devices so their movements could be monitored. The hope was for them to stay together, so Reckless could teach Churro how to live in the wild. However, at 700 pounds, Churro was at the age where a calf would have usually been weaned. Unfortunately, the pair did not stay together and the decision was made to intervene and bring Churro to Blue Spring, a natural warm-water site with lots of other manatees. The hope is that Churro will learn from them and follow them. She was in the spring run this morning with the other manatees.

~Cora

Thursday, January 25, 2024

The river temp today was 61.2°F (16.2°C). With the warm weather, the manatee count has been cut approximately in half each day for the past four days. Today, the count was 156 manatees. The only Save the Manatee Club adoptee in was Nick. Looking forward to Saturday, my prediction is around forty manatees but manatees do not care what I predict!

Wayne & Cora

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

The river temp rose dramatically to 59°F (15°C). We counted 323 manatees. As the eighty-degree highs continue, I hope they leave a few manatees around for the Festival! We saw Save the Manatee Club adoptees Howie, Nick, Paddy Doyle, Doc, and late but not least Philip. Again today, the manatees in the run were mobbed up near the river, waiting to get out to the big salad bar to eat.

Wayne & Cora

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

The river temp went down a tiny bit lower overnight but with the warming today and the coming week, many manatees have gone out to feed and most of the others are near the mouth of the run, ready to go out when it warms a little more. We counted 626 today, and the Save the Manatee Club adoptees among them were Aqua, Deep Dent, Nick, Paddy Doyle, Howie, Lily, Philip, Rocket, Doc, and Phyllis.

Wayne & Cora

Monday, January 22, 2024

The river temp was 57.6°F (14.2°C). That is cold! At least for the past few seasons. Forty years ago it was often colder. Now for the fun part. We counted 717 manatees. I believe that is the highest one-day count I have participated in. We saw Save the Manatee Club adoptees Philip, Merlin, Lily, Nick, Annie, Doc, Phyllis, Rocket, Whiskers, Aqua, Deep Dent, Margarito, and Howie.

Wayne & Cora

Sunday, January 21, 2024

It was the coldest morning of the season yet and the wind made it feel even chillier. The river temperature was 58.8°F (14.9°C) and SMC counted 679 manatees. The park staff counted 932 from the boardwalk, but that seems rather high. IDing the manatees from the research canoe was very difficult today due to the high winds, but I still was able to see adoptees Aqua, Paddy Doyle, Nick, Doc, Lily, Floyd, and Una. Howie was on the webcam yesterday. There is a very good chance that many more were in, huddled together so I was unable to identify them.

~Cora

Friday, January 19, 2024

The river was down to 60.1°F (15.6°C). We counted 501 manatees today. With the drop in the river temp, the number of manatees might have increased but it should be warmer today. The manatees are eager to get out and eat and get ready for more cold days. The Save the Manatee Club adoptees in were Lily, Howie, Philip, Una, Floyd, Merlin, Deep Dent, and Moo Shoo & calf.

Wayne & Cora

Thursday, January 18, 2024

The river temp was 60.6°F (15.9°C). The park counted 677 from the boardwalk; during the count, the manatees conducted a huge panic, with many going into the river. So, when I counted from the canoe later, I counted 475. I saw Save the Manatee Club adoptees Howie, Philip, Lily, Annie, Una, and Deep Dent. I have not seen a green heron for a couple of years but one was at the boil today. I love how they will crouch in an inch of water and think they are invisible.

Wayne

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

The river temp was 62.1°F (16.7°C). We counted 300 manatees and the park counted 256. We saw Save the Manatee Club adoptees Howie, Lily, Lenny, Annie, and Deep Dent. Feeling that one of the manatees was in desperate need of assistance, we called, and a rescue was started. However, the sick manatee disappeared and a very long search did not find them, and the rescue attempt had to be called off. We also turned a floating park sign that had blown over back upright. It was not easy!

Wayne & Cora

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

It was a warm and humid morning and the river temp was 60.9°F (16.1°C). The park staff counted 259 I counted 194 manatees, but I believe I may have undercounted. Most manatees were located near the river and many were moving in and out. The adoptees seen were Lenny, Howie, Annie, Floyd, Aqua, Deep Dent, and Paddy Doyle.

~Cora

Monday, January 15, 2024

The river temp was 60.8°F (16°C). Before the canoe launched, the manatees conducted a big panic that originated somewhere up the run out of my sight. So again, we started the count with bank-to-bank manatees near the river and the silt so churned up we could see very little in that area. We counted 525 manatees and the park counted 675. The Save the Manatee Club adoptees we saw were Howie, Phyllis, Annie, Moo Shoo & calf, Flash, Merlin, Una, Aqua, Deep Dent, and Whiskers. Floyd also made an appearance on the webcam.

Wayne & Cora

Sunday, January 14, 2024

The river was 62.4°F (16.9°C) and the park staff counted 353 manatees. I counted 377—pretty close! Something must have startled or annoyed the manatees in the upper part of the run, as they kept quickly swimming down the run when I was halfway through the count. Adoptees Una, Annie, Lily, Moo Shoo with calf, and Flash made the count today.

~Cora

I do not believe we have mentioned in the blog that Gator has been seen recently in a spring other than Blue Spring and appears to be doing well. I just went through the figures on manatee attendance at Blue Spring and here they are as of today. 458 returned from last season, 15 returned from previous seasons, and 88 manatees that we cannot ID and will name and number at season’s end. 79 manatees we can ID this season but probably not next season, and 83 calves. The total is 723 manatees seen at least once this season. We have yet to get a handle on how many are in that are totally unmarked.

Wayne

Saturday, January 13, 2024

We couldn’t do a count yesterday due to high winds and rain. It warmed up quite a bit and many of the manatees went out to feed.

The river was 62.6°F (17°C). The park staff counted 203 manatees and I counted 160. I may have undercounted slightly as there was a large cavorting group that started in transect 2 (by the second overlook) and made its way all the way up to the boil. I tried to keep my distance from it and could only estimate how many participants were involved. The only adoptees sighted today were Moo Shoo with calf, Annie, and Flash.

We have been wondering all season where the alligators were. Usually, we have at least one or two hanging out in the lower part of the spring run. It wasn’t until this morning that I finally saw one. It was close to the river. On the way back, an eagle chased a great blue heron. We usually see the eagle sitting on the very top of the tree by the river. I have never seen one on the side of the bank chasing another bird away. It was a sight to see for me and the many park visitors who witnessed it!

~Cora

Wednesday, January 10, and Thursday, January 11, 2024

Wednesday: Got my notes together to do the blog and then got distracted by a camera problem. Here it is, a day late. The river temp was 62.2°F (16.8°C). We counted 387 manatees and the park counted 342 manatees. We counted more as we were out a long time to keep track of Una so an attempt could be made to get some of the line entanglement off of her left flipper. Una took off before anyone could even get in the water. We also saw Save the Manatee Club adoptees Flash, Lily, Aqua, and Rocket.

Thursday: The river temp was down to 61.5°F (16.4°C). The park counted 664 manatees and we counted 524 manatees. Our count was thrown off by a huge manatee panic of unknown origin that came down the run toward us. Many manatees went out into the river and the lower run was left so stirred up visibility was close to nil. We did observe Save the Manatee Club adoptees Howie, Nick, Deep Dent, FloydPhyllis, Lily, Aqua, Doc, Moo Shoo & calf, and Lenny. Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute personnel were back to try to help Una again today. More was learned about the entanglement, which may help in future efforts at removal but Una was not having anyone too close. So perhaps another day!

Wayne & Cora

Monday, January 8, 2024

We did not expect much today as the river had gone up two degrees to 62.1°F (16.7°C) since noon yesterday and the park had counted in the two hundreds over the weekend. I think they counted what they could see, which was not much as the weather was rotten and rain makes manatees almost impossible to spot. The park counted 612 manatees today, and we thought that was high until we counted 602 manatees. The manatees were calm, the surface of the water was like glass, and the overcast weather meant the sun did not ruin our films. The Save the Manatee Club adoptees we ID’d in the crowd were Lily, Una, Deep Dent, Doc, and Flash.

Wayne & Cora

Friday, January 5, 2024

The manatee count went down. We counted 428 manatees and the park counted 499 manatees. The river temp was the same as yesterday: 60.1°F (15.6°C). The difference in the two counts today was probably a huge manatee panic in the lower run by the river. The run was so stirred up that little could be seen in that area. We could see no reason for the panic. It must have been a manatee thing! The Save the Manatee Club adoptees seen were Phyllis, Nick, Deep Dent, Whiskers, Moo Shoo & calf, Flash, Doc, Margarito, Annie, Lily, and Philip.

Wayne & Cora

Thursday, January 4, 2024

The river temp rose, but not much to 60.1°F (15.6°C) so we counted 677 manatees and the park counted 687 manatees. Then, a young male manatee that was rescued from Blue Spring earlier this season was released. He had been treated for line entanglement on his left flipper at SeaWorld Orlando. He has been named Manatee Jones. It was a good day for Save the Manatee Club adoptees. We saw Nick, Margarito, Deep Dent, Doc, Lily, Flash, Una, Aqua, and Moo Shoo & calf.

Wayne & Cora

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

The river temp was 59.5°F (14.3°C), so it was down a little more than yesterday. I counted 575 from the canoe and the park counted 706 from the boardwalk. The park may be closer to the proper number, as I was still distracted by media in the canoe. It was a perfect day for roll call, and I hope it will be the same tomorrow. Save the Manatee Club adoptees Nick, Howie, Lenny, Doc, Merlin, Phyllis, Floyd, Paddy Doyle, and Lily were to be seen.

Wayne & Cora

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

The river temp was down to 59.9°F (15.5°C). I counted (estimated) 516 manatees. The park counted over six hundred manatees. Cora saw Save the Manatee Club adoptees Floyd, Nick, Lily, and Phyllis from the boardwalk (I was in the canoe). I had media in the canoe and the count is always a little off when that is the case. When I left the park, the line to get in was only about one or two hundred yards long. Friday, it was just over a mile.

Wayne & Cora

Saturday, December 30, 2023

The river temperature had cooled down to 61.7°F (16.5°C). The park staff counted 545 manatees and I counted 505. I may have underestimated, as they were packed in in some of the transects, making it impossible to really see. It was one of those days where it is easier to count from up on the boardwalk than from the research canoe. But there was no wind, which allowed for perfect ID conditions. The adoptees seen were Brutus, Aqua, Phyllis, Lily, Doc, Moo Shoo with calf, Annie, Floyd, Una, and Nick. Howie and Philip were seen after the count was finished.

We still see new manatees arriving every day!

~Cora

Friday, December 29, 2023

The river temp was 63.5°F (17.5°C). We counted 358 manatees and the park counted 349 manatees. You cannot get much closer than that! The Save the Manatee Club adoptees present were Doc, Una, Phyllis, and Moo Shoo & calf. Then some time was spent with the media. The line to get into the park at 1245 must have been over two miles long.

Wayne & Cora

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

The river temp was 64.2°F (17.9°C). We counted 186 manatees and the park counted 191. Pretty close. There were some in the river when we counted that may have just gone out. Most of the manatees were near the river, wanting to get out and eat before the next cold comes in. Conditions were as good as yesterday until the wind came up but the roll call was over by then. The Save the Manatee Club adoptees in were Annie and Floyd.

Wayne & Cora

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

The river temp was 63.7°F (17.6°C). We counted 225 manatees. The ten-mile-per-hour wind never arrived while we were out, nor did the fog, but the rain did a little. The manatees were very calm, and the water was like glass—no mud, no silt. We were glad we did not cancel the roll call. Floyd, Doc, and Annie were the Save The Manatee Club adoptees in.

Wayne & Cora

Friday, December 22, 2023

We knew the river temp was 61°F (16.1°C). That meant the river was a little warmer than yesterday, and I was not surprised to see water swirls indicating manatee activity by the river. They would want to go out and feed. But the condition of the run, I had never seen before. Half the run near the river was suspended mud, the other half beyond murky. Manatees were everywhere and spooky. Even the paddle in the water upset some. All sorts of debris was coming down the run. Leaves, twigs, pieces of palm frond, and patches of foamy bubbles. We moved over near the east bank, where we were less likely to hit a manatee, and eased up the run. A visitor was on the large viewing platform where our above-water camera is located. He said earlier that he was on the aluminum dock halfway up the run when the manatees jammed in front of it erupted. Foam, tails, waves, and manatee backs thrashing everywhere. When we got to the dock, the water there had cleared and we began our roll call. Normally, we start by the river, but nothing could be seen there. We went to the boil to do the roll call and then suspended it until we returned to the aluminum dock on the way back down. We resumed the roll call there as the water had cleared and the manatees were calmer. Something may have happened during the night to make them nervous and ready to “panic,” or they may have upset themselves. We managed to count 573 manatees, including Save the Manatee Club adoptees Nick, Moo Shoo & calf, WhiskersDocPhyllis, Annie, Gator, Lenny, and Merlin. With Doc in, we are only missing Lucille.

Wayne & Cora

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Good old, beat up, Merlin showed up today! Now we only need Doc and Lucille. The river temp was down to 60.6°F (15.9°C). We counted 669 manatees, but we probably missed many in the lower run as the manatees were cavorting and stirring up the silt. Aside from Merlin, the Save the Manatee Club adoptees in were Nick, Philip, Deep Dent, Lenny, Aqua, Floyd, Moo Shoo, Phyllis, Whiskers, and Gator. We must have done a good job of IDing going up the run because we hardly ID’d any going back down the run.

Wayne & Cora

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

The river temp was 61.7°F (16.5°C). This was the best day we have had for roll call this week. The wind was 5 to 15 mph, mostly 5 mph, or we were in a place out of the wind on the run. We got a count of 685 manatees! The Save the Manatee Club adoptees we saw on the way up the run were Philip, Gator, Annie, Phyllis, Whiskers, Deep Dent, Aqua, Floyd, and Moo Shoo. Moo Shoo was in a mob near the shore and we could not find her calf, but we are sure the calf was there. On the way down the run after roll call, we had a regular line-up of adoptees; we saw Paddy Doyle, Lily, Brutus, and Howie. Today, as on several other days, we noticed the lack of tarpon. When we were almost to the mouth of the run to beach the canoe, we saw one, then two, then many more. Twenty or thirty were hitting the surface in front of the big viewing platform! I wonder where they have been?

Wayne & Cora

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

The river temp was 64.2°F (17.9°C). A little cooler than yesterday, so more manatees. We counted 401 manatees, and the park counted 431. The wind conditions were awful, but it was worthwhile. I definitely feel it was an undercount by us and the park both. The Save the Manatee Club adoptees were Nick, Gator, Whiskers, and Phyllis. Phyllis was seen after the count but was probably there the whole time. Sadly, we have been informed of the death of Leena. Leena was the calf of our departed adoptee Lesley. She was rescued with her mother and, when released, had no ID scars. She did have a microchip in her shoulder, so we know it was her. Now we would like to see if she has scars that may indicate she has been coming to Blue Spring since her release. We only know Leena has died now; more info will follow.

Wayne & Cora

Monday, December 18, 2023

The river temp was 65.3°F (18.5°C). The river was warmer, the manatees were fewer! We counted 279 manatees. But many were manatees we had not seen yet this season. Our Save the Manatee Club adoptees were Brutus, Whiskers, and Annie. One of our new sightings on the 15th was Diago. He has been gone for four years. He was so comfortable at Blue Spring, I was surprised he left us after three seasons, but now he is back! Conditions for ID’s were terrible today. Wind and murky water.

Wayne & Cora

Saturday, December 16, 2023

I have been doing a little counting on the manatees we have recorded in this season so far. 370 manatees have returned from last season. Eight manatees have returned from previous seasons. We have counted 77 calves. 128 manatees are marked but not ID’d, and I estimate 37 manatees with no visible scars, for a total of 620 individual manatees seen so far this season. I expect at least 100 more known individuals. Throw in a few more unknown manatees coming in, and we may be in the 800’s again!

Wayne

Friday, December 15, 2023

The wind predictions were hefty, making it seem like a count today was out of the question, but luckily the wind didn’t start picking up until about 9:45 a.m.

The river temperature was 66.2°F (19°C), which again seemed pretty high; most likely it was influenced by the spring water. We found out this week that there is a temperature gauge in Deland, which read 63.8°F (17.7°C) this morning, and that makes more sense for the river temperature. The park counted over 400 manatees, and I counted 383. Conditions weren’t great for counting because the manatees had the water stirred up and a large group was cavorting halfway up the run and kept moving all the way up to the boil, picking up more and more participants along the way.

The SMC adoptees seen today were Howie, Brutus, Deep Dent, Phyllis, Annie, Moo Shoo with calf, Floyd, Gator, Lily, Philip, Paddy Doyle, and Aqua. This was Aqua’s first visit for the season and should make a lot of adoptive parents happy, as we have been getting a lot of questions about her whereabouts. We are still waiting to see Lucille, Doc, and Merlin, but new manatees are still coming in daily.

~Cora

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

The river temp we got today was 65.3°F (19°C), which we considered even worse on the high side than yesterday. I was recently informed that the St Johns River Water Management District (SJWMD) has got the USGS to open a gauge at Whitehair Bridge near Deland. I just checked it out, and it is more reasonable than what we were getting the past two days. The USGS temp was 63.5°F (17.5°C). We counted 542 manatees this morning. A new high for the season. The Save the Manatee Club adoptees in were Deep Dent, Brutus, Nick, Gator, Lily, Moo Shoo & calf, and Phyllis.

Wayne

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

The river temp was 65.3°F (18.5°C). We felt it should be lower and that the spring run must be influencing our reading. At any rate, we counted 343 manatees, and the park counted 387. The wind was predicted to give us trouble seeing the manatees and controlling the canoe, but as often happens, by coming out early, we finish the count before the wind is too high. More manatees continue to make first appearances and more calves are coming in. Our Save the Manatee Club adoptees present were Lily, Annie, and Gator. We are still looking for Aqua, Doc, Lucille, and Merlin.

Wayne & Cora

Monday, December 11, 2023

The weather forecast called for 15 mph winds with 20 mph gusts—not a day to go out counting manatees from the research canoe!

I was headed to the park anyway to work on the webcams, and once I arrived, it was dead calm with barely any wind at all. It didn’t start picking up until I was halfway through the count.

The river temperature was back up to 19°C (66.2°F), and I counted 138 manatees. The park staff counted 141, so pretty close! None of them were Save the Manatee Club adoptees. However, adoptees Howie, Lily, and Annie were on the webcam over the weekend when we didn’t do a count.

Watching the webcam after, I saw many more coming in as the wind picked up and it continued to get chillier. More should be in tomorrow.

~Cora

Friday, December 8, 2023

The river temp was 62.6°F (17°C), which makes more sense than yesterday’s, which was just too high to be correct. Researchers were in the water, so the manatees were stirred up and harder to count and ID. We did some special temps for the SJWMD. While we did that, the manatees calmed down some. Then, a third of the way into the count, a helicopter hovered over the run, and the longer it stayed, the more manatees fled the run. Cora and I had trouble hearing one another because of the noise from the aircraft. We could still count, but IDing was much harder. We managed to count 511 manatees, and the park counted 492 manatees. I consider those counts close enough to be considered the same. More new arrivals and calves keep coming in! Our Save the Manatee Club adoptees today were Brutus, Paddy Doyle, Moo Shoo & calf, Flash, Gator, Lily, Annie, Phyllis, Philip, and Howie.

Wayne & Cora

Thursday, December 7, 2023

The river temp was 66.2°F (19°C), which is totally wrong. The run must have been pushing south and effecting the thermometers. The 371 manatees we counted showed the true condition of the river. The park counted 438 manatees. We count at different times and from different angles, so the counts nearly always differ. The Save the Manatee Club adoptees present were Lily, Annie, Una, Gator, Rocket, Moo Shoo & calf, and Deep Dent.

Wayne & Cora

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

The river was back down to 64.4°F (18°C). We counted 202 manatees. Among the Save the Manatee Club adoptees, Flash was in for his first visit. Una, Lily, and Gator were also in.

Wayne & Cora

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

The river was warmer than yesterday, 68°F (20°C), but the air the manatees were breathing was cooler, so our count ended up higher than expected. We counted 105 manatees. I could see something coming down the run from where I was at the tour boat dock. It was a rotting palm tree, and two juvenile manatees were gnawing on it. My thanks to Gator the manatee for showing up, so we at least had one Save the Manatee Club adoptee present!

Wayne

Monday, December 4, 2023

The river temp was 67.1°F (19.9°C). It was obvious the count would be down as we saw manatees that were normally up the run and even in the boil down by the river. Sure enough, only two were above the first quarter of the run. We counted 79. The park had counted 107 earlier. No Save the Manatee Club adoptees were present. Our highlight was to see one of the manatees that was released last year and had lost its tracking gear during the summer was back and looking fat and healthy.

Wayne & Cora

Saturday, December 2, 2023

The weather is really warming up, and the river was up to 67.1°F (19.5°C). The count was off to a late start because a family from the Wish Upon A Star foundation was visiting the park so their young child could see his first manatees, and he got to see quite a few!

Most of the manatees were headed towards the river and I counted 236. The adoptees in today were Gator, Annie, Rocket, and Deep Dent. We are still seeing new manatees arriving every single day and lots of calves. The forecast looks warm for the next few days, which will allow the manatees a little break to go feed in the river before the next cold front is forecasted for mid next week.

Also of note are two manatees, Nato and Jaden, who we closely monitored alongside our partners last season. Both had suffered injuries from collisions with watercraft and Nato in particular escaped several rescue attempts. Luckily, he healed well and is back at the spring this season—he is one of the lucky ones. Same for Jaden.

~Cora

Friday, December 1, 2023

The river temp was up to 65.3°F (18.5°C), and the air temp was headed to 83°F (28.3°C). I think the manatees knew this, as many were abandoning the run as we started the count. Then the leaf blower started up and inspired even more manatees to leave. They were hard to count! In the end, we counted 433, which goes nicely with yesterday’s count of 447. The Save the Manatee Club adoptees in today were Margarito, Paddy Doyle, Howie, Una, Annie, Brutus, Floyd, Gator, Moo Shoo & calf, and Deep Dent. Gator was also in yesterday, I missed mentioning him. The brief spell of warm weather may cause some lower manatee numbers but right now we could use a breather to study our pictures and drawings.

Wayne & Cora

Thursday, November 30, 2023

The river temp remained at 64.4°F (18°C), and the manatees kept coming! We counted 447 manatees and, like yesterday, they had the run so stirred up that there must have been many more in the murky water. It was an adoptee party. We saw Philip, Howie, Annie, Lily, Una, Moo Shoo & calf, Phyllis, Paddy Doyle, Lenny, and Nick!

Wayne & Cora

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The river temp only went down a little to 64.4°F (18°C), but the number of manatees went way up. We counted 270, and if the water had been clear, we probably would have counted over 300. The Save the Manatee Club adoptees present were Moo Shoo & calf, Deep Dent, and two new arrivals for the season—Whiskers and Rocket! As of yesterday, I said we had 132 manatees in so far this season. That should have been 132 calves and returned manatees. We have seen many more total manatees! As of today, at least 270.

Wayne & Cora

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The river temp is down to 65.3°F (18.5°C), and we counted 179 manatees! Tomorrow should see many, many more! The Save the Manatee Club adoptees in today were Moo Shoo & calf, Annie, and Deep Dent. All were over halfway up the run. 93 manatees have returned from last season so far. Two were not seen last season but are here now. We already have 37 calves. This works out to a total of 132 individual manatees seen as of today!

Wayne & Cora

Monday, November 27, 2023

The season is underway, for certain! We counted 124 today and the predicted highs and lows for the next few days are in the forties (below 10°C). As for Save the Manatee Club adoptees, Moo Shoo & calf, who have been in several days, were joined by Deep Dent.

Wayne & Cora

Saturday, November 25, 2023

The river temperature was 68°F (20°C) and, for the first time this season, the count broke 100! The park staff counted 106 manatees from the boardwalk and I counted 113 from the research canoe. The manatees were extremely active in the lower part of the spring run, cavorting around the logs, which made counting and identifying difficult. Luckily, on the way back down, they had settled some, so I was able to pick out a few more IDs. The only two adoptees in were Annie and Moo Shoo with her calf. Both were in the area by the aluminum overlook, so the visitors got a good view of them. More adoptees should be arriving soon!

~Cora

Friday, November 24, 2023

River temp was 67.8°F (19.9°C), and I counted 68 manatees. One Save the Manatee Club adoptee was in. It was Annie. She was right beside the boardwalk, so she had a little crowd of viewers. On the research side, on November 21, Cora filmed Hola with a calf. We had not seen her since January 2017. I was afraid she had died during the COVID epidemic and was never recovered, so it was a very pleasant surprise to see her again.

-Wayne

Thursday, November 23, 2023

The air temperature dropped drastically overnight, from being in the 80s yesterday to the low 50s this morning. However, the river didn’t seem to have dropped much at all; it was still at 23°C (73.4°F) according to my thermometer. The park staff counted nine manatees, and I counted 18—they seemed to just be arriving. None of them were adoptees, but the cooler temperatures in the next few days should bring some manatees in.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

~Cora

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

The river temp was 73.4°F (23°C). That is over five degrees above the magic 68 degrees that starts to get manatees in in greater numbers. It is no wonder we only counted three juveniles! We also counted three deer. Two were at the kiosk that looks over the boil. I had not seen one there before. I included a picture of the youngster that was rescued yesterday since I forgot to include it yesterday. Cora picked it for social media, and I picked it for the webblog, so it must be the best picture. It is supposed to be cooler after Thanksgiving, so hope for more manatees!

Wayne & Cora

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

No proper count today by Save the Manatee Club but the park counted 13. Instead, we had a rescue. A young male manatee was observed several days ago by different people with a severe line entanglement on its left flipper. It did not even appear to be using it. Pictures were forwarded, and today a rescue was completed by FWC, Sea World, Volusia County, Florida Park Service, and Save the Manatee Club. The youngster was designated S14/23. The S stands for seasonal, which means we do not have much hope to ID it next season. We have several manatees now with left flipper entanglements and cannot distinguish between them. He is the 14th manatee seen this season in that category. The 23 stands for the 2023–24 manatee season. Once he is rehabilitated and returned to the spring, that will change, as he will have an ID chip, a name, and a Blue Spring number. He may be hard to ID visually, but if anything happens to him, we will know.

Wayne & Cora

Monday, November 20, 2023

The river temp was 69.8°F (21°C), and we counted 13 stirred-up manatees, all but one by the river. Researchers were in the water. When the count was over, the manatees were settling down, and the count was closer to the park count of 17. The temperatures may be a little cooler later in the week, but the weather is supposed to be wet and windy. No Save the Manatee Club manatees today.

Wayne & Cora

Sunday, November 19, 2023

The river temperature was 71.6°F (22°C), which was only slightly cooler than the spring temperature. The park counted 18 manatees and I counted 25, but there was a lot of coming and going. Most manatees were cavorting close to the river; a few were upstream. As I paddled up the run, I was surprised to see no mom/calf pairs, which at this time of the year are usually the first ones to show up (we have seen many already!). One mom/calf was between the swim entrance and diver entry, with two male juveniles pursuing the annoyed mom. As I was finishing the count and paddling back downstream, at least three more cow/calf pairs showed up, while most of the manatees I had actually counted had since left into the river only to be replaced by more that I did not see during the official count. Among all of them, no SMC adoptees were present today.

~Cora

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Yesterday the weather was so adverse we didn’t do a count. Today it was almost worse with rain and high winds, and it’s still very warm considering that it is mid-November. The river temp was 68.9°F (20.5°C), and 5 manatees made the official count. Four more came in after the count was over, but none were adoptees.

~Cora

Monday, November 13, 2023

It has been very warm these past few days, and only a few manatees were seen by the observer volunteers over the weekend. Today the river temperature was 71.6°F (22°C), and no manatees were in the spring run. We will watch out for cooler temps!

~Cora

Friday, November 10, 2023

The river temp was 71.6°F (22°C). Twelve manatees were counted. None were Save the Manatee Club adoptees. Nothing further to report!

-Wayne

Thursday, November 9, 2023

The river temp was 71.6°F (22°C). We counted 30 manatees and none were Save the Manatee Club adoptees. A few new arrivals for the season were in, but we have to wait for cooler weather before the counts go up.

-Wayne & Cora

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

The river temp was up just a bit. It was 68.2°F (20.°C). The manatee count went down accordingly to 53. The only Save the Manatee Club adoptee in for the count was big Lily, and it is always good to see her. The webcam showed Moo Shoo and calf in the run before the count yesterday, so the total adoptees in is four: Annie, Gator, Moo Shoo, and Lily. Only two of the calves seen in the off-season remain to be seen. Looking ahead, temps are warming, but a short cooling trend will set in on Sunday.

-Wayne

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

One more day like today, and I will declare the manatee season started yesterday! The river remained 68°F (20°C). Cora and I counted 62 manatees and ID’d 33. Among these were Save the Manatee Club adoptees Annie and Gator. We recorded twelve calves during the off-season, and seven of these have come in. Not bad for two days! Once we see a calf, we worry about them making it to the refuge for the winter.

-Wayne & Cora

Monday, November 6, 2023

The park staff and manatee observer volunteers saw many manatees this past weekend. 

This morning the river temperature was 68°F (20°C), which is considered the “magic number” to bring manatees into the spring. I counted 76, and they were dispersed throughout the spring run. More than I expected! Most of them were either juveniles or mom/calf pairs, who usually come in first. No adoptees this morning, but Annie was seen over the weekend.

~Cora

Friday, October 20, 2023

I measured the river temperature today, and to my surprise, it showed 69.8°F (21°C), which was much lower than I had expected it to be. However, when checking the high and low air temperatures for the past week (which we routinely do during the season on the weather station that the park service has set up), I saw that the overnight lows at the park had actually been in the upper 40s this week—a little cooler than what the online weather forecast predicts for downtown Orange City. That, in addition to a lot of rain before the cold fronts, may have contributed to the lower river temperature.

I attempted a count, but it seemed like nobody wanted to be counted today—no manatees were in the spring run at 8 a.m. Later in the morning, a few came in, including Amelia, a manatee we helped release a few years ago. It was good to see her, and she looked great. It took us a little while to recognize another female manatee, “Chloe.” She got a new (not severe) boat strike over the summer that left her with three small scars on the midback, which is all we could see on the webcam. We identify Chloe by a white scar on her left flipper and an entanglement scar on her right flipper, as well as a tiny nick on the left side of her tail. Today I got a good look at her, and it is indeed Chloe, and she has a calf! This might be her first calf. We assisted with rescuing Chloe two seasons ago, and she was brought to SeaWorld for rehabilitation due to lethargic behavior, weight loss, and the entanglement on her flipper. Luckily, she had a quick turnaround and was released later that season.

The next week looks very warm, so most likely the manatees will be moving into the river again. No adoptees were seen today.

~Cora

Thursday, October 19, 2023

We had a little cold snap in Florida this week!

Air temperatures dropped into the low 50s in Orange City, and a few manatees stopped by Blue Spring over the last few days. Although our research team did not do any official counts yet, we monitored via our webcam (they will go live for the public in November), and we received reports from the manatee observer volunteers. On Tuesday, roughly between 13 and 20 manatees were seen; on Wednesday, the numbers increased to roughly 20 to 25 manatees; and today (Thursday), the observer reported 29 in the morning alone. Many of them are unscarred juveniles, and the majority come into the spring and leave quickly, so it is hard to keep an accurate count. It is not cold enough yet for them to want to stay. We observed many of them devouring the floating vegetation that was present in the spring, which was to be expected! A lot of vegetation had blown into the spring run, especially after hurricane Idalia, which made it harder for paddlers, including our manatee observers, to get through—this should no longer be an issue!

We were excited to see some new mom/calf pairs and several previously released manatees who seemed to be doing very well. Particularly exciting was a sighting of manatee Plantaina, whom we helped release at Blue Spring in 2022 after she failed to thrive at her original release location. She was deemed a success last winter by our partners from CMARI after coming back to Blue Spring in good body condition. She swam by the webcam with a group of other manatees yesterday, and we had to do a double-take to confirm that it was her because she has grown so big! The only adoptee seen this week was Annie.
Since it is not yet consistently cold, the manatees usually stop by for a very brief period of time and then leave into the St. Johns River. We will start our official counts once we have consistently cold weather.

-Cora & Wayne

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