Manatee Sighting Reports: 2014 – 2015



ShareThis Facebook Tweet LinkedIn Email

In April 2015, Phyllis gave birth to a calf at Blue Spring State Park. This is the third or fourth time Phyllis has given birth at the park.
ShareThis Facebook Tweet LinkedIn Email In April 2015, Phyllis gave birth to a calf at Blue Spring State Park. This is the third or fourth time Phyllis has given birth at the park.

by Wayne Hartley, Manatee Specialist

May 28, 2015

It appears we had 481 individual manatees come in during the season, which ran from November 2, 2014, to April 1, 2015. As for the adoptees, 18 of our 22 manatees came in, and three of those that showed up did not count as staying the winter. Elaine and Squeaky did not visit Blue Spring this winter, and Merlin stayed at Silver Glen. Merlin did not come to Blue Spring, but he is an old experienced manatee and should be fine. Georgia was at SeaWorld, where she died on April 22 from complications of pregnancy at the age of 24. She will be so missed. Brutus and Flash came and left early after two visits in a three day period. No winter stay for those boys. Rocket came late, but in the 25 days he was around in February, he was seen 10 times. Rocket was the only manatee to get two boat strikes this season, but he was doing fine despite the injuries.

The attendance champ among those who spent the winter was Phyllis, with 33 appearances. Annie, who was caring for a calf, was in 29 times for second place. Annie might have beat Phyllis out, but she and her calf went to Lowry Park Zoo on February 4 because both mom and calf displayed signs of malnutrition. Phyllis did not have a calf, but she was pregnant and came back to give birth in the spring head on April 30. Tied with Annie for second place was Philip, who is also the male attendance champion. Lily, even with no calves on the horizon, was here 26 times. Floyd and Robin surprised me by having 23 and 22 visits respectively. I did not realize how often those two boys were in. Paddy Doyle and Doc were around 21 times. Deep Dent made 20 roll calls, which is very high for him. Sometimes Deep Dent seems a bit anti-social. Nick, another old timer, came by 18 days. Whiskers was all over the run on 16 different occasions. Howie and Lucille were in for 15 visits. Lucy use to vie for the championship — maybe next year. However, I have noticed in one of the season photos that Lucy is pregnant! Lenny quietly appeared 11 times, and finally there was Margarito with 10 visits. Margarito went somewhere during the winter and got a terrible boat hit to his tail and then must have stayed some place comfortable as he was healed when he came to the park.

April 30, 2015

Yesterday I was notified that a manatee had been hanging around the spring boil at the park for two days. Cora Berchem, Save the Manatee Club’s Multimedia Specialist, happened to go by the park and found a very pregnant Phyllis. Today she is no longer pregnant! This is the third or fourth time Phyllis has given birth in the spring. The other times though she gave birth at the end of the manatee season. Now we hope to find the sex of the calf and that Phyllis and her new arrival quickly departed the park, leaving the swimming area to the summer crowds.

April 1, 2015

River temp was 70 °F (21 °C) and one manatee was in. His name is Andy. Surely THIS is the end of the season!

March 31, 2015

And so it continues! There were nine manatees today with a river temp of 68.2 °F (20.1 °C). The new calf was not in but two older cow-calf pairs were. Yesterday we had three cow-calf pairs. Both days, we also had Fran and a juvenile. Fran started nursing juvis halfway through the season, so I have to believe she is pregnant. In a way, that is another cow-calf pair. That is what is expected when it just is not very cold.

March 30, 2015

Here we go again. I thought we had the manatee season all tied up, and a bit of cold weather returns. The river temp dropped to 67.3 °F (19.7°C) and at least 10 manatees came in. There were no adoptees in the group, but a manatee I noted as very pregnant earlier now has a brand new calf! The mother, estimated as four years old, was carefully examined, as I hoped she was Squeaky. Instead, she got her own name and number, “BS855 Anya.” We were unable to determine the sex of the youngster. Now I have to change my season dates and my manatee numbers!

March 25, 2015

The river temp was 82.5 °F (28.2 °C) on March 21st, and it was only down to 76.5 °F (26.8 °C) today, but we had another manatee in the run today. Streak was returned to the run today by Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership members, SeaWorld Florida, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Save the Manatee Club, and the Florida Park Service. Streak came in on December 19th suffering terrible cold stress and was removed and taken to SeaWorld on December 28th. Streak was ID’d as a yearling in 2011, so he is four years old, going on five. The manatee transporter arrived about 11:15 a.m. and in just over 30 minutes, he was swimming gently away into the water of Blue Spring run and the St. Johns River. SeaWorld did an excellent job with his rehabilitation. Streak was beautiful.

March 19, 2015

On March 16th, the river reached almost to 81 °F (27.2 °C). Today it was 77 °F (25 °C). In spite of that, we had two manatees. Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP) member Lowry Park Zoo of Tampa returned Annie and her calf Naui to the wild. Other MRP members—Sea to Shore Alliance, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Save the Manatee Club—and the Florida Park Service all participated. Annie is big and round again and Naui has gained almost 100 pounds.

March 13, 2015

The river temperature was 74.6 °F (23.8 °C). There were no manatees at the spring today. Today, although I am not going to Blue Spring, the river is over 75 °F (24 °C). If there are no further cold fronts, the manatee season is over.

March 11, 2015

The river is up to 70.6 °F (21.5 °C). My count was one manatee to the park staff’s count of two. I did see another manatee after the count was over. Cora Berchem, Save the Manatee Club’s Multimedia Specialist, reports Phyllis was on the webcam on March 9th after my count was over and I had left the water!

March 10, 2015

The park staff and I both counted six manatees today. Four more manatees came in after the count, and I ID’d eight of the total of 10. There were no adoptees in today. The river temp was 69.7 °F (20.9 °C).

March 9, 2015

Starting on March 5th, the river temperature fell rapidly until it dropped below 65 °F on March 8th, that is nearly 18 °C. On the 8th, 23 manatees were counted by the park staff. The river temp today was 67.3 °F (19.6 °C). The park staff counted 25 manatees, and I counted 18 an hour later. I saw four more manatees after the count, but late or on time, there were no adoptees present on this roll call.

March 5, 2015

The river temp today was 69.6 °F (20.9 °C). There were no manatees for the count and none came in late. The high air temp yesterday was 85 °F (28 °C) and is predicted to be higher today. The weekend is supposed to be cool but not cold, so we shall wait and see if any manatees look in on Monday.

March 4, 2015

Wonderful weather to count manatees today and tomorrow. So wonderful that there are almost none to count! The river temp was 69.4 °F (20.8 °C). One manatee was at the river and one a third of a mile away at the boil. I saw two manatees after the count was over for a total of four seen. I was able to ID all of them, but none were adoptees.

March 3, 2015

The river is 67.5 °F (19.7 °C). I counted 14 manatees, and the park staff counted 16. Nick was one of the 13 manatees I recognized. We tried to film Mulch’s belly again to see how the cold-stressed youngster is doing. But, however long our camera poles are, he goes one foot deeper. He does keep looking better though. Air temps are predicted in the 80s, so the manatee season may not last much longer.

March 2, 2015

During the past two days, the river went up 4.5 degrees to 64.5 °F (18.1 °C). I was surprised to count 98 manatees today, and the park staff had counted 106. I expected it to be less. Among the 75 ID’d were Floyd and Philip. I spent a good bit of time filming a calf that had a new boat strike, including a fair-sized skeg and three prop cuts. The calf’s scar has healed, so the filming was for ID purposes. The calf’s mother will be named and numbered this year. It is the mother’s first calf and since the calf is female, we have a new genealogy starting!

February 28, 2015

The river temp was back down to 60 °F (15.6 °C). The park staff counted 93 manatees, but as I was on the water so long with the filming and manatees kept coming in, I counted 144, even though I had to turn back before the boil was reached. In the 125 manatees identified were Paddy Doyle, Lucille, Doc, Rocket, Phyllis, Philip, and Howie. Phyllis, Philip and Howie were late arrivals.

February 26, 2015

The river is up to 61.3 °F (16.3 °C). With time spent on filming, I counted 31 manatees and ID’d 20 of those. Rocket was among them. Back in the fall, that 61 °F would have impressed the manatees, but after a cold winter, they are ready to get out in the wide world.

February 25, 2015

The river was 60.1 °F (16.7 °C). I met with a BBC film crew at 8:00 a.m. to discuss filming for tomorrow. I then got on the run at 8:50 a.m. and counted 63 manatees compared to the park staff’s count of 87. I ID’d 48 of those manatees, but none were adoptees. However, I felt more manatees were coming in as we finished up. The low water temps are not supposed to be very low, but the high temps will be low enough to keep the river from warming. I should see more manatees tomorrow.

February 24, 2015

With manatees leaving, Cora Berchem, Save the Manatee Club’s Multimedia Specialist, counted 80 manatees after the park staff counted 111. Cora ID’d 14 manatees, including Nick and Rocket. The river temp was up to 59.1 °F (15.2 °C).

February 23, 2015

The river, which got down to 54.3 °F (12.4 °C) over the weekend, has climbed back to 58.1 °F (14.6 °C). The high air temp at the park yesterday was 82 °F (31 °C), so in spite of the cold water, I only counted 153 manatees, and the park staff counted 165. The manatees know warmer weather is on the way, so most were near the river ready to go out and feast! The wind came up two thirds of the way through the count, but I still ID’d 105 manatees. Big thank you to Rocket and Howie. They were the only adoptees present. Rocket has never been friendly, but on the last two roll calls he has checked out the canoe very thoroughly.

February 21, 2015

The river temp was 55.6 °F (13.1 °C). The overnight low was 28 °F (-3.5 °C). Both record lows for this season. I counted 363 manatees and the park staff counted 357. Not too far apart! The wind was much worse than predicted, so I only ID’d 149 manatees. I saw Robin, Lucille, Lily, Nick, Deep Dent, Paddy Doyle, Margarito, Lenny, Phyllis, Philip, and Whiskers. I might have seen Doc but he went by in a fleeing group so fast I could not be sure!

February 18, 2015

The river temp was up two degrees to 61 °F (16 °C) today from the count on the 16th. We still did well, counting 288 manatees and IDing 151 of those. The weather was wet and windy yesterday, and I let the count pass. Today it was only windy, and with the weather tomorrow being worse, I went and slipped in before the wind got too bad. I managed to see Paddy Doyle, Lily, Philip, Doc, and Rocket before the wind shut me down. Friday looks to be brilliant.

February 16, 2015

Lots of adoptees today! The river temp was 59 °F (15 °C). This was also the day chosen for the statewide synoptic survey. We counted 284 manatees at Blue Spring and 30 of those were calves. The Blue Spring numbers were down, but it is hard to get the weather just right everywhere in the state. The wind was very calm until it was time to put up the canoe, so I was able to ID 127 manatees as the count went on. I was able to pick out Robin, Lucille, Lenny, Philip, Phyllis, Rocket, Lily, Paddy Doyle, Nick, Doc, and Howie.

February 10 – 11, 2015

On February 10th, the river went up three degrees to 61.6 °F (16.4 °C). The manatee count went from 175 yesterday to 134 today. I ID’d 66 manatees including Phyllis and Rocket. It was windy!

On February 11th, the river came back down a degree and a half to 60.1 °F (15.6 °C), and you could see it reflected in the increased count of 237 manatees. Mulch, the cold-stressed manatee, dodged the cameras on the 11th, but I think from my pictures taken on February 9th that he is looking better. I have passed the photos around to get other opinions. I ID’d 137 manatees on the 11th. Lucille was in along with Whiskers, Paddy Doyle, Howie, Lily, Phyllis, Floyd, and Rocket. Just for information, I list the adoptees in the order I see them. Lucille was the closest to the river and Rocket was closest to the boil or spring.

February 9, 2015

The river was 61.2 °F (16.2 °C) today. I counted 175 manatees and ID’d 120. Nick, Phyllis, Deep Dent, and Doc made the count. Rocket and Howie were spotted after it was over. Hopefully I have photos of Rocket. He slept while I circled him. I also managed to film the cold-stressed manatee we are worried about, but I am not sure I got his underside. The condition of his belly will tell us a lot. His designation is “S115/14,” and I was asked to name him, so I call him Mulch.

February 7, 2015

The weather kept me away on Thursday and Friday so I went out on Saturday. The river temp was 58.6 °F (14.8 °C). I managed to count 296 manatees and ID 178. Among those ID’d were Robin, Deep Dent, Paddy Doyle, Philip, Phyllis, Floyd, Whiskers, Doc in the boil, and with the count over, Lily showed up. There is a juvenile manatee with cold stress that concerns us, and I would like to get better pictures of his underside (ventral for the science-minded) to let us know his condition. He did the same thing he did last time we saw each other. He hauled fluke. Fluke being the paddle-shaped tail they do most of their swimming with.

February 4, 2015

Manatee adoptee Annie and her calf were rescued today from Blue Spring State Park. The rescue was needed because both mom and calf displayed signs of malnutrition. The pair were taken to the Manatee Hospital at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. It was a wonderful effort by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, SeaWorld, Lowry Park Zoo, Sea to Shore Alliance, Save the Manatee Club, and Blue Spring State Park. On the life as usual side, the river temp was 59.1 °F (15.1 °C). I counted 289 manatees and ID’d 126. When I reached the boil, I got a surprise. Rocket was finally home!! Along with Rocket I also recognized Nick, Margarito, Robin, Philip, Paddy Doyle, Floyd, and DocRocket has a new boat scar along the right side of his tail that has healed and a new one at his left peduncle that is minor.

February 3, 2015

The wind was predicted to be calm, but as the day arrived it was up over 10 miles per hour. It would get calm and I would start to film. Next thing I know, I’m spun around and stuck in some logs with Phyllis approaching with a look in her eye that says “I think I’ll turn him over!” I counted 350 manatees but only ID’d 136 of those. I saw Margarito, Robin, Paddy Doyle, Lily, Phyllis, Phillip, Floyd, and Annie. It is supposed to be perfect tomorrow, except for the sun. The sun is bad for photographing manatees because of the reflection.

January 30, 2015

The river temp today was 58.7 °F (14.8 °C). Yesterday it was 57 °F (13.8 °C). The park staff counted 403 manatees yesterday and 391 today. I counted 379 manatees today. USGS researchers were in the water doing photographic work. I ID’d 234 manatees. The adoptees were Lucille, Doc, Phyllis, Margarito, Paddy Doyle, Phillip, Floyd, Deep Dent, Annie, Whiskers, Lily, Lenny, and RobinDoc was cruising up and down the run like he was exercising for a marathon!

January 28, 2015

The river temp today was 58.4 °F (14.7 °C). I counted 366 manatees. That is my high count this season, but it is not a high count for the park staff. The park high count was 414 on January 11th! The wind was bad again today, and the manatees were agitated about something, meaning they were tending to swim rapidly toward the river as I approached. It was hard to ID, but I did manage 172. Thirteen of the 17 adoptees I have seen this year were in. I recognized Deep Dent, Nick, Howie, Robin, Lucille, Margarito, Philip, Lily, Phyllis, Paddy Doyle, Annie, Doc, and WhiskersMargarito was last in on December 12th and has come back to us with a new injury to his tail. It is an eight- to 12-inch cut through the right side of his tail. Perhaps we did not see him as he was holed up somewhere until he healed, which, amazingly, he has done. I filmed him but do not know the quality yet.

January 27, 2015

The river temp was 60.1 °F (15.6 °C). I counted 341 manatees, which is up from the park’s count on Monday the 26th. It was very windy, but I was able to ID 150 manatees. Lily, Phyllis, Floyd, Deep Dent, DocPhilip, Whiskers, and Annie were in. I’ve been asked if I am afraid of alligators while in the canoe. If the alligator is afraid of me, then I am not afraid of it. The reverse is also true. If the alligator is not afraid of me, then I am afraid of it. If it is not afraid of me, then it is being fed and may get pushy if I do not feed it, which I would not do. This would really apply if I were in the water and not in the canoe. I will swim in water with an alligator, but not if it has been fed or approaches me. In the canoe, I worry about coming up on the alligator and leaving it no route of escape except through me and the canoe. Once I was observing Big Blue the alligator (12 to 14 feet long), as he lay on a tree that we had used like a sidewalk to observe the manatees before it fell in the run. Then I realized the “sidewalk” was pointed directly at the center of the canoe, and I vacated the area. People should know that a fed gator is a dead gator! Nuisance alligators must be reported to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission staff, who confirm the report and send for a licensed trapper.

January 24 – 25, 2015

Manatee Festival 2015. On Saturday the river temp was 64.1 °F (17.9 °C). I arrived at the park and decided the rain was not bad enough to keep me out of the canoe, but then I watched the tree tops whipping back and forth in the wind. It was board walk and binoculars for me! From there, I counted 36 manatees. The largest group was nine in the boil. I was able to ID 16 manatees before the day was over, and one of those was Annie with her calf and devoted juveniles. The sun came out and saved the day for the festival, but the wind never let up. On Sunday, the river temp was 62.7 °F (17 °C). The steam was coming off the run so thick that we eased up the run and tightened bolts on the underwater webcam and then eased back down before starting the count. You do not want to bump a manatee you cannot see in the steam. I counted 138 manatees and the park staff counted 133—pretty close. I ID’d 106 manatees, but only Annie, Lucille, and Philip turned up from the adoption side. With the beautiful weather, many, many more people showed up for the festival on Sunday than on Saturday.

January 23, 2015

The river temperature was 63.8 °F (17.7 °C) today. I counted 73 manatees and identified 36. The only adoptee in was Lucille. I tried to observe “S135/14,” our high-floating manatee, but the wind that was to rise after 1:00 p.m. was already creating ripples before 9:00 a.m., making it harder to see. The low temp tonight is supposed to be 60 °F and the high tomorrow 59 °F — interesting. There’s also an 80% chance of rain and 30 mph winds. But it is the Blue Spring Manatee Festival, so I shall be there to at least try a Roll Call!

January 21, 2015

I had media with me today to advertise the Blue Spring Manatee Festival this weekend. The river temp was 61.5 °F (16.4 °C), up half a degree. I counted 194 manatees and ID’d 125. I saw Robin, Lily, and Phyllis on the way up the run. On the way down the run with the count over, I saw Annie. Right after Annie, we found the high, floating juvenile and could confirm to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission that it was the one they wanted to tag. We captured a manatee earlier this year during a warm spell with few manatees in. With so many manatees in now, the desire is to tag it, follow it, and capture it in the river. However, after two hours of tag evasion today, we are making new plans! For those who do not know, the transmitter tag is on a tether attached to a belt secured just above the tail. To free tag a manatee, you swim up behind it slip the belt over the tail, then pull it tight.

January 20, 2015

To my calibrated eyeball the river temp was the same as yesterday, 61 °F (16.1 °C). The manatee count was up. I counted 327 and the park staff counted 318 — a good match. It was a busy day. Cora Berchem, Multimedia Specialist for Save the Manatee Club, joined me. As we went up the run we found a “floater” (a manatee having trouble submerging — a possible sign of injury) that I had filmed on the 15th. I filmed him some more and called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) folks that were on the way to the park already. The FWC was on the way because SeaWorld was going to release Sarge and Lowry Park Zoo was going to release Pixie. Sarge was picked up in Jacksonville with severe cold stress — I believe a year ago. He did not have a mark on him from his ordeal (the manatee’s body will often have white patches where the skin has sloughed off). In other news, FWC is concerned with Little Orphan’s failure to bond with one female. Come warm weather, he could be left to fend for himself when the nursing mothers all leave and spread out. The little manatee that was floating too high was also evaluated, and he may be rescued and in rehab very soon. In the midst of all this I ID’d 213 manatees and saw Robin, Howie, Nick, Lenny, Phillip, Annie, Lily, Paddy Doyle, Phyllis, and Whiskers.

On Friday the 9th, I counted 331 manatees and expected more to come in over the weekend. I missed the weekend and then Monday and Tuesday due to weather and a meeting. On Wednesday, I checked with a ranger at the park and found she had counted 359 manatees on Saturday. Getting back to the park office after my count, I checked the calendar and saw the count was 400—a new record. I grabbed the official journal to check it and saw the count was actually 399. I mentioned it to the park biologist and said she would have to confirm it as none of us counters are math whizzes! The end result is a new record of 414 manatees for a single count set on Sunday, January 11, 2015!!! The old record was 367.

January 19, 2015

The Roll Call started well. The river was 61 °F (16.1 °C), and the manatees were at home. Then at 9:00 a.m. I picked up a German nature photographer as arranged by the park staff. Everything gets confused with someone else in the canoe. Well we had fun, and my passenger seemed very pleased. He uses a variety of cameras with the basic idea of combining a standard digital camera with a spotting scope. I ended up with a count of 251 manatees to the park staff’s count of 239, which is close. I ID’d 146 manatees, among them Robin, Howie, Deep Dent, Philip, Lily, Phyllis, Doc, Whiskers and, with Roll Call over, Paddy Doyle. I saw a lot of manatees that I had seen already but had wandered for awhile.

January 15, 2015

Today the river temperature is down to 61.4 °F (16.4 °C) and about 65 more manatees were in than yesterday. I counted 285 manatees and ID’d 154 of them. Deep Dent was first up by the river and then came Robin, Lenny, Philip, Annie, Lucille, and finally Lily at the aluminum dock. We have one called Little Orphan that may be inflating the calf count. Little Orphan tries to nurse on everyone, including the males. It is very small but very healthy as it never stops. As soon as it finishes nursing on one mother, it rushes over to another. I hope I have not included as a mother a calfless lactating female that was nursing Little Orphan!

January 14, 2015

The river temp, which had dropped below 59 °F this weekend was up to 62.4 °F (17.2 °C). I counted 219 manatees and the park staff counted 207. That’s close enough! I identified 110 manatees and saw Robin, Deep Dent, Whiskers, and Philip, who was late for Roll Call. The weather that was supposed to be sunny and warming was gray, misty, and cold. They got the wind right at 10 to 15 miles an hour, but it let off from time to time so I could see past the ripples. The rest of the week looks like some manatee-producing cool weather.

January 9 – 12, 2015

On Friday, the weather was to be 46 degrees and warming, sunny and with calm winds rising to 5 mph. Instead it was 45 °F and falling, winds were 15 mph with gusts to 20 mph, and the sun never appeared. It even rained a little, though I did not notice. Researchers from the USGS Sirenia Project were in that day to do some of their underwater photography. At one point, a bunch of manatees managed to panic themselves. I heard it coming from behind me and headed to the bank to get out of the stampede. Waves, foam, and manatees were headed for the river. When a loud alarm call is given, it is swim for your life and ask questions later. Most manatees do turn right back and return. Others swim around seeming to look for what they should be afraid of, and another group sleeps through the whole thing and wonders where everyone went when they wake up! Sounds like people doesn’t it? Amidst all the confusion I counted 331 manatees and the park staff counted 324. It is hard to believe we were so close on the counts. I was able to ID’d 194 manatees and saw Robin, Lenny, Floyd, Phyllis, Doc, Deep Dent, Lily, Whiskers, and Annie. The river temp was 60.2 °F (15.8 °C) and going down. By the way, I have seen the panic activity from manatees even without researchers in the water going about their needed business. In moving or playing, manatees can shove another into a sharp stick or log and off they go.

On Monday, the river was still cold, but the weather was so bad I worked at home. Just got word that Monica Ross, a biologist with Sea to Shore Alliance, saw Rocket at Silver Glen at 13:00 hours on Friday, January 9, 2015!!!

January 8, 2015

The river finally did a major temperature drop last night to 64.4 °F (17.9 °C). With the wind, it was very hard to see, but I got a bigger count from the canoe than the park staff did from the boardwalk. I counted 226 manatees and the park staff counted 185. I probably missed some manatees in the wind. Then a helicopter buzzed the run, and I missed a bunch more as over 50 manatees panicked and rushed down the run. I missed a lot of ID’s as well. Once everything settled down, I did ID 139 manatees, including Nick, Lenny, Robin, Annie, and Phyllis. With the river now down to 62.7 °F (17 °C) in the mid afternoon and the low overnight predicted as 44 °F (7.5 °C) the run should really be packed tomorrow. With the wind due to ease off, I hope to get many more ID’s.

January 7, 2015

The river temp was down to 66.7 °F (19.7 °C), and the manatee count was up to 76. The steam coming off the run in the cold was so bad the park staff was still trying to count when I finished. I ID’d 51 manatees, and one of those was Annie! She was way up the run with her calf and her gang. Annie always has at least four juveniles trying to steal a nurse. This cool spell should reach its lowest tonight, so there should be quite a gang tomorrow.

January 6, 2015

The river temperature is going down slowly. It was 67.6 °F (19.8 °C) today. I counted 52 manatees and the park staff counted 53. I ID’d 33 of those, but there were no adoptees present today. It was a lot of juveniles, cows, and calves as they feel the cold first. Should be much better manatee viewing tomorrow.

January 5, 2015

To go back a few days, my manatee count on December 30th was 56. The next day, Cora Berchem, Save the Manatee Club’s Multi-Media Specialist, counted 153 manatees. In the following days, the park staff counted 150, 76, and then 17. Today, with a warmer river temperature of 69 °F (20.5 °C) I counted three manatees. The park staff counted none before my count, but before I put up the canoe, eight more manatees had come in. After all my counts with no adoptees present, it was good that Cora saw Floyd, Philip, Howie, Nick, and Annie! The coming week promises cooler weather, so more manatees can be expected.

December 31, 2014

Cold, windy, wet and the river temp had gone down .3 to 66.3°F (19.2 °C). My manatee count doubled to 56. The park counted 50, and there were more coming in. There were no adoptees present among the 42 I ID’d however. I recently did a satisfying thing on the research side. I’ve been meaning to check the pictures of Unknown 41-14 to see if she was a manatee already named Lili. I finally did that and she is! Even better, Lili has her second calf, and it is big, healthy and acts perfectly normal. She takes her time getting around to having calves. Lili was born in 2001 and had her first calf in 2007 and the second in 2014. The first calf, Lolo, was very small and would rest by the bank of the run. However, when I would come by in the canoe, it would swim to mom and act normal. Then one day Lili took Lolo out in the river, but Lolo did not come back with her when she returned. It is heartening to see her current calf so robust.

December 30, 2014

No adoptees again today, (which is good as they are likely out feeding). There were 24 manatees counted and 15 ID’d. The river temp was 66.6 °F (19.5 °C). It was well the river was so warm during rescue of Streak.

December 29, 2014

Yesterday afternoon the river temp got up to 68.5 °F (21 °C). Today when I did my Roll Call it was 66.3 °F (19.1 °C). That means the numbers of manatees will be falling, and they are. I counted 123 manatees on Friday, the park staff counted 61 Sunday, and I counted 35 today. Only two were large adults. The rest were cows, calves and juvi’s. Of the 35 present, 28 were ID’d and none were adoptees. However, Lily was seen on the webcam Friday afternoon! I started with a manatee panic. They must have been on edge a little after the rescue yesterday, and it appeared I almost ran over Big Blue the alligator’s head. He shot out from under the bow of the canoe and somehow spooked the manatees near the river. Back to the rescue. The systems of cold-stressed manatees often shut down, and they stop eating. BS704 Streak showed no sign of functioning digestion. He looked bad in my pictures and worse when Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) rescue personnel checked him out in water on Saturday. So, on Sunday a rescue was conducted by the East Coast Marine Mammal Recovery Team along with the SeaWorld Manatee Rehabilitation Team and the park staff. Streak’s chances of recovery are much better now that he is in the care of SeaWorld. While at SeaWorld, Christine Rush of the FWC team checked on Georgia for us. She is improving and is still in with a bunch of calves, which makes Georgia and all the calves happy.

December 26, 2014

The river was 64 °F (17.8 °C) today. I counted 123 manatees and ID’d 82 but none were adoptees. I tried to get better pictures of our cold-stressed manatee’s underside so we will better know what to do for him.

December 23, 2014

The manatees are desperate to get out and graze, and with the warmer temps, it looks like they are doing just that! Yesterday with a river temp of 62.2 °F (16.7 °C) the park staff counted 95 manatees after I counted 321 on Friday! Today I counted 61 manatees, but the nine I counted late may have been in the clay cloud on my way up run and would have made it 69. I ID’d 44 of those but saw no adoptees. Two more manatees came in for the first time this season. Both looked good with no cold stress symptoms. One was Piggy, one of the captive releases from last season. Now two of four that remained in the wild have returned. A third one, Wallace, is at Salt Spring. When I got home on Friday I had messages asking me to ID a cold-stressed manatee from Welaka Springs. I ID’d it as BS704 Streak and could send pictures as he had just come into the Blue Spring Run on the 19th after leaving Welaka on the 10th. Now we have to watch him to make sure he is eating. With the winds predicted tomorrow, I do not expect to be out until Friday.

December 21, 2014

The weather ahead looks so bad I thought I would post some general information. The river is up to 63 °F (17.3 °C). I will try to get out Tuesday, but Monday and Wednesday look impossible right now because of rain and wind. It has been on my mind that Lenny had been in for a month, but I hadn’t got his picture to prove it. Friday I found him asleep in water that was somewhat clear and got his image! I used to have a problem with too many gar fish getting in the way of research photos, then tarpon. Now it is juvenile manatees (and even the occasional adult) wanting to play with the canoe! We are up to 467 manatees for the season, of which 47 are calves. The highest manatee count was 365 Friday a week ago.

December 19, 2014

It was only 49 °F (9.5 °C) when I got to the park, but it must have felt colder due to the humidity. Even after the Roll Call I was cold! The manatees seem to react the same sometimes as I counted 321 even though the river had warmed to 61.1 °F (16.2 °C). I ID’d 191 manatees and Big Blue the alligator a quarter of the way up the run on the bottom. Phyllis, Lily, Robin, Howie, Phillip, Lenny, Deep Dent, Doc, Nick, Floyd, and Whiskers were in. A goodly number. Next week it is to be warm and rainy on Monday and Tuesday and then windy on Wednesday. We shall see.

December 17, 2014

Today I saw Philip, Annie, Lily, Deep Dent, Phyllis, Paddy Doyle, and Flash among the 171 manatees I ID’d. I counted 286 manatees, but I wonder how many were in the steam and clay that I missed. I recorded Philip and had done a couple more when I looked over and there was Phud breathing right beside Philip where I could not see a manatee on the bottom, never mind ID! They are brothers by the way. The park staff counted more than 300 manatees over the weekend, which seemed a little high to me until I realized the river temp had dipped below 59 °F (15 °C) both days and at a time I would not have recorded it had I been doing a count. Saw two turkeys fly over the run ahead of me, I love it! A few days ago I saw a wild sow with at least six piglets at the edge of the run that I reported to the Park Biologist. Feral pigs take resources from the native animals.

December 15, 2014

The park staff manatee count was around 300 both days this weekend. Today I counted 277 manatees and the park staff did 271—that’s agreement! I ID’d 200 of those manatees. Lucille, Deep Dent, Philip, Doc, Floyd (chasing Eon and calf down run), Phyllis, Paddy Doyle, and with the roll call over, I came across Nick and Robin. The steam off the water was bad, and the clay they stirred up was worse. The river temp was 59.4 °F (15.2 °C). The manatees were by the river in greater numbers and seemed restless. I think they know it will warm some now, and they are ready to get out and graze! Earlier I mentioned the black vultures were eating the orange engineer tape I use to mark the transects I then use to locate the manatees along the run. Turns out I am smarter than a black vulture! They haven’t bothered them this year. The tape is disappearing again, but I have a solution that should work after conferring with park staff. As I finished up, Big Blue the alligator even came out to sun. Haven’t seen him lately.

December 12 – 13, 2014

I believe the manatees are still getting used to having the entire run open to them and this, along with the continuing high water, has really got them going up the run. As I started up the run today, my first manatee was FlashFlash wasn’t up the run — he was on his way out! As I went on, I found Margarito, Lenny, Howie, Phyllis, Floyd, Paddy Doyle, Deep Dent, Philip, Lily, Whiskers, Annie, and Doc. I used to clean the underwater camera dome on the way up the run, but with so many manatees around it I have been cleaning it on the way down. As I pulled up to the camera, “Unknown 22/14” and calf came up to check me out. As I reached for my brush, momma slammed the canoe with her nose and it went up and tilted sideways. The visitors laughed as I canceled the cleaning and left. With U22/14 so close, I was able to ID her as BS796 Piney. She is probably four years old, and this is her first calf. The river was 61 °F (161 °C), and I counted 365 manatees. I will reach 400 yet!

On December 13th as I sat at home feeding the fireplace, the river dropped to 59.7 °F (15.3 °C). Cora Berchem, Media Specialist for Save the Manatee Club, saw Lucille, Floyd, Phyllis, Annie, and Lily on Saturday, and there were many others concealed by the steam coming off the warm spring water.

December 11, 2014

I saw Robin, Lenny, Lucille, Howie, Flash, Nick, Floyd, Annie, Phillip, Deep Dent, Doc, Phyllis, Paddy Doyle and Whiskers for Roll Call! Then Margarito showed up late. Best morning this season. The river was 62 °F (16.7 °C), which I believe is our coldest this season. I counted 352 manatees and with no real wind until Roll Call was over I ID’d 236! For those who worry, Annie’s calf is always with her, along with a juvenile or two or three trying to sneak a nurse. If I do not see the calf, I will mention it. New manatees are still coming in for the season, so our missing adoptees may still show up.

December 10, 2014

Today I saw Nick, Annie, Deep Dent, Lily, and Phyllis during the Roll Call. When it was over I saw Flash, Floyd, and Philip, but the conditions were bad, and they may have been there all along. Steam was rising off the water, the manatees had the clay stirred up, a light breeze was blowing, and I had media in the canoe. Visibility was so bad the park staff gave up. I counted 257 manatees and ID’d 99 of those. The river temp was down to 64 °F (17.8 °C). The filming was for Wildside TV, so you can watch for it on ABC channels. It may come out as a feature on parks and the amazing things you might see while visiting them. At one point, as the filming went on, I noticed a manatee with a tiny white scar on its left shoulder, and I thought it looked like Connie’s scar but that the manatee wasn’t Connie. When I got home, I thought I better check Connie’s pictures and sure enough, it was Connie. That’s manatee research—slow and sometimes sure!

December 8 – 9, 2014

The river temp was over 69 °F Sunday and the park staff counted 15 manatees. On Monday, the river was 67 °F (19.5 °C), and the manatees know it will get even colder. They feel barometric pressure changes or something. I counted 103 manatees, and the park counted 102—72 of which I was able to ID. There were many old friends, but Philip was the only adoptee present. The weather was miserable—drizzly, cold and windy. I dragged my feet as long as I could, but it did not improve, so I went and was glad I did! More bad news however. Sadly, on Saturday, December 6, 2014, BS644, Conan, was brought in to a boat ramp at Whitehair Bridge on 44 west out of Deland. We don’t know the cause of his death yet, and we await the Pathology Lab’s report. Conan was ID’d in 2010, when he was one or two years old. I last saw Conan on December 4th.
The manatees are aware it is getting even cooler. On Tuesday, the river was 65.8 °F (18.7 °C) Today I counted 136 manatees, and the park staff counted 159. The wind wasn’t as bad when the park counted, so that probably accounts for the higher figure. Among the 91 manatees I ID’d were PhilipFloyd, Paddy Doyle, and Flash. I’ve got another candidate for Squeaky. In my heart I do not think it is, but I shall be giving the film I shot a very close look. We had five captive manatees released at the park last season, and today I realized one of them—Bycatch—has returned! Bycatch was in today and yesterday! It makes us feel much better when they come back to the warm water refuge where they were released.

December 5, 2014

The river temp has continued its upward climb. It is now 66.5 °F (19.2°C). I counted 75 manatees, and I ID’d 50, one of which was Floyd.

December 4, 2014

Well the St. Johns River is up to 65.4 °F (18.6 °C). Almost a degree and a half rise and so I counted 94 manatees. The park staff counted 63 manatees, and I ID’d 49 of those. With the warmer temps, I suspect most of the manatees were out feeding.

December 3, 2014

The river temp rose a tiny bit to 64 °F (17.8 °C). I counted 111 manatees (the park staff counted 93) and ID’d 54. Howie and Phyllis were the only adoptees and were near each other halfway up the run. I had a photographer with me, and an article should soon appear in the Daytona Beach News Journal. When this warm spell finishes up perhaps Elaine, Squeaky, Rocket and Merlin will show up!

December 2, 2014

The river went up .8 degrees to 63.8 °F (17.7 °C). So I counted only 122 manatees. I ID’d 83 and saw Deep Dent, Robin, Nick, and Philip. I missed Annie for a rarity! I thought I would mention the help the webcam gave me to ID Ada’s calf Wing last season. Wing was always in a mix-it-up crowd, and I could not determine Wing’s mother until the end of season when I saw them together many times on the webcam. Word is back: Ada died of what is categorized as “other human causes,” with fish line and hooks in her intestines. She was in an emaciated condition, but this was not visible from above. I expect even fewer manatees tomorrow because of the warm weather.

December 1, 2014

The river was 63 °F. I counted 214 manatees and the park staff counted 209! I ID’d 117 manatees, among them Robin, Margarito, Philip, Lucille, Annie, Flash, Doc, and Phyllis. The weather is warming, so the counts will get lower, but I am sure the cold will return. As of December 1st at 8:00 a.m., I have seen 402 manatees, 42 of which are calves.

November 28, 2014

The rain is gone, and the cold is back. The St. Johns River is higher, but the temp is lower: 62.7°F (17.0°C). The park staff counted 319 manatees and, for a change, I was lower with 294. The wind was bearable but bad enough to hurt ID’s. I still managed 130 of them. The first adoptee I saw was Deep Dent near the mouth of the run, just above where the cold river had intruded. Next was Lily and then Lucille, who was a quarter of the way up the run. Just above the north end of the aluminum dock, half way up the run, were Annie, Philip, and Doc, and Nick was with them. Crazy Nick, the anti-social manatee, was right in the middle of things way up the run. What a wonder! Then came Phyllis, and just outside the boil was the Flash! I took the opportunity of clear water to film Flash. I hope the bright sun did not make it in vain. U23/14 swam by all cleaned up just to prove it was not Mossback. (That is a research thing.) Before I could count, I had to replace the rotted thwart or crosspiece on the canoe. The old one was a kind of yoke so you could carry the canoe. That’s a joke! I’ll never carry that barge! The new one is a simple narrow plank!

Bad news: a dead manatee was brought into Holly Bluff Marina on November 26, 2014. It was BS652 Ada. Ada was first ID’d in 2009 as an adult. She had two calves. The first in 2010, who we lost track of, and BS774 Wing born in 2013 and weaned the past summer. Wing is back this season, and I hope Wing is female so we can continue to track the line. Cause of death for Ada is not yet established at this time.

November 24, 2014

I had no intention of going to the park this weekend, which was fine as the weather was warming and awful! Then the bad forecast extended all the way to Thanksgiving, so when a break developed, I went today. The river was 63.9 °F. The high air temp Sunday was 83 °F at the park. But I saw 160 manatees and ID’d 85 of those. There was Robin, Philip, Doc, Floyd, and Annie. A few new manatees for the season showed up and a couple more calves. One manatee with a calf I mistook for Caleb last season, even though the real Caleb was there. Since Caleb certainly wouldn’t have a calf, I quickly corrected my mistake. Winds were predicted to be bad, but they didn’t hit until I was done. The next two days are still looking rotten. Maybe I can get out Friday.

November 23, 2014

The St. Johns River temp was 59.5° and 331 manatees were in. Of these, 175 were ID’d. The first adoptee I came to was Whiskers, and he has been resting well up the run. Then came Nick, Paddy Doyle, Deep Dent, Phyllis, Philip, Annie (Annie was in on the 20th as well), Doc, Floyd, and Lily. Actually, right after Whiskers came Howie, Margarito, and Lenny! We are now waiting for Elaine, Rocket, and SqueakyMerlin is at Silver Glen, but I would like to see him at Blue Spring! The total for the year remains at 385 manatees, even though many more have come in due to a math error on my part on the 20th. I am making greater use of the calculator since then! Calves are up to 40 with four more that are “maybes.” Maybes are when I see what appears to be a calf with a female, but I cannot exclude that it could be someone else’s calf. After all, some calves hang out with males and seem to ask to nurse! So maybe there are 44 calves! Our belted wonder from Port Everglades is back. It looks like the belt almost came off, along with the transmitter, when it caught on something. His belt will probably be removed and end his notoriety. Also on the research side is the ID of BS728 Irvin as BS288 Eggbert. There were no photographs of Irvin, but I had seen him recently enough to know I had seen him again. The photographs proved he was Eggbert, something the sketches and memory could not do. Eggbert was not seen between the 2000-2001 season and the 2012-2013 season—that’s 11 years.

November 20, 2014

The river has dropped to 60.1 °F. I had a good count of 355! The total manatees counted this season is 385. The roll calls and the total are running very close together, and 37 of the total manatees ID’d are calves. I am sure all of this is a record for November! Lucille was in, along with Nick, Robin, Paddy Doyle, Lily, Floyd, Flash, Phyllis, Doc, and Whiskers. Our smallest calf ever belongs to Millie, probably the largest manatee to ever visit us!

November 19, 2014

The river temp on November 16th was 69.8 °F. Today it was 62.8 °F, and I counted 286 manatees. Since I had only seen 276 total up to this point, I guess I need to do another data update! The park staff counted from the boardwalk, and the majority of the manatees were between the aluminum dock and the diver entry, which is hard to see from the boardwalk. Add to that the murky water and the wind, and it is reasonable the park staff counted 156. Cora Berchem from Save the Manatee Club was with me, and we were puzzled as we counted so few manatees in the lower run. I have never had so many manatees in the upper half of the run that I don’t normally see there! LilyBrutusAnniePhyllis, and Floyd were in again, and we found Philip on the way down after the count. The big surprise was Deep Dent. He was in the boil hanging with someone’s calf. Deep Dent has one more manatee season than I do. This will be my 35th. In all that time I have never seen Deep Dent in the boil! The update is 293 total manatees seen, 35 of which are calves.

November 16, 2014

The river was 66.5 °F (18.61 °C), a bit colder than Thursday. On Friday, the park staff counted 43 manatees and 93 on Saturday. Today the park staff counted 132 manatees, and I counted 169. I was able to ID 104 of those, but it was hard. The clay stirred up by the manatees obscured the dark river water on the bottom and most of the manatees through Transect 4. This is the part of the run that contained the most manatees. I recorded 39 manatees as question marks! But I did see Brutus! The water was clear at Transect 6, and I saw Paddy Doyle! With roll call over and the clay drifting away, I found Flash! Also seen today were Annie, Nick, and Phyllis. Speaking of Annie, we have covered her calf’s birth and return to the spring with the cold. I would also like to mention her first calf Arron has been in as well! Big Millie (we believe she is over 3,000 pounds) was in after a season’s absence. I mentioned this also of a manatee named Lucas the other day. The next day Peter showed up with an identical tail mutilation to Lucas. Fortunately Lucas does not have other scars the same as Peter. With rain and wind forecast for Monday and Tuesday, I shall stay home and catch up the records and photos again. Wednesday looks to a busy one with a temp of 37 °F (2.77 °C). So far, we have 276 manatees seen this season of which 33 are calves. More to come this week I am sure!

November 13, 2014

Long day yesterday. After the count, I flagged the transects we use to locate the manatees along the run. Long ago we used to run vegetation samples along the transects and then we kept them for location. I am the only one who knows them any more, so I mark them at the beginning of the season for the park staff. The St. Johns River is still warming, but more manatees coming in. Today I counted 128 manatees. The park count was the same as mine yesterday, but today they got 93 manatees. I ID’d 101! Lily was in but did not want to pose for her picture. I took it anyway, but it might not be too good. The only other adoptee was Whiskers, who missed the count but was asleep opposite the aluminum dock when I came back down the run. It is his first time in this season! Bad news: the one we hoped was Squeaky was China instead. It is good to have China back, but we also want Squeaky! It was intensely beautiful today and so quiet.

November 12, 2014

It was a nice drive to the park yesterday. There was light traffic, no school zones, and I finally realized it was Armistice Day. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the guns fell silent, and that particular horror was over. Now it is called Veteran’s Day in the U.S. There were plenty of school buses and zones today however. The river was 66.3 °F, but in spite of the warmer reading, I counted 117 manatees and ID’d 96. Doc and Nick made their first season visits, but Nick missed roll call. AnniePhyllis, and Floyd were also in. My film from yesterday show Volusia’s twins are fraternal: a girl and a boy. There are many others and calves coming in. At end of business today, 210 manatees had been seen this season. Twenty-eight of this total are calves, and two manatees are from previous seasons. Lucas had only been in during the 2012-2013 season and Snap had only been seen during the 2011-2012 season. Keep your fingers crossed. We were trying to get a better look at a youngster today with a nick in the right tail edge that we hope will be Squeaky.

November 11, 2014

The high air temp for the park yesterday was 65 °F. The St. Johns River went back down to 65.8 °F, so I had a good day today. The weather forecast yesterday was so poor I kept playing catch up on my records. There have been 142 manatees seen so far this season, 23 of which are calves! My first manatee entry when I got on the run was Windy! I shortchanged the manatees in the mouth of the run (the canoe basin) and found the wind on up the run affected me and the canoe more than it rippled the water. The park staff had counted 71 manatees earlier from the bank, but I counted 104 from the canoe. I ID’d 68 manatees, one of which was Mr. Robin making his first appearance of the season. Annie and Floyd were also in, and I hope I got good film of all three!

November 8 – 9, 2014

The weather forecast today was bad, so I am at home catching up with film. I capture stills from the film I shoot during roll calls. Some are deliberate, and some are from letting the camera hang over the side of the canoe to film whoever volunteers! Yesterday, Saturday, November 8th, the river temp was 67.8 °F. I counted 58 manatees with Annie being the only adoptee counted. Several females were found to have calves, or not. Hola does not have twins, just a single calf. Some unknowns were ID’d, and more manatees returned for the season. As I viewed and labeled my film last night, I found I had good coverage of Una’s entangled right flipper. We tried so hard to capture her to treat it last year. As Una turned, I could see the left flipper is badly entangled as well. I hope the weather keeps her in. Last year she would leave as soon as I would call the capture team.

November 5, 2014

The St. Johns River temp is 66.3 °F and rising. I counted 108 manatees and who knows how many were hidden in the clay cloud they had stirred up! Floyd and Lily made it in, along with many not in the adoption program. The four adoptees in so far seem to have made it through the summer in good shape, with no new scars visible. A manatee named Hola may have twins, which would give us two sets, and that would be new. With the gang so excited about being back at Blue Spring, it is hard enough to sort out who has a calf, let alone twins. I shall now take two days off—Thursday and Friday—so I can do the weekend. When I left the Park Service, I decided not to do weekends any more, but the weather and the manatees are not interested in my plans.

November 4, 2014

The temp of the St. Johns River has risen to 65.7 °F, but the manatees keep coming in. Today there were 92 manatees, even though all I had time for was a quick boardwalk count before I headed over to DeLand to participate in the Volusia County Manatee Watch Training. More season arrivals, more calves — it was great. Manatees from the river to the boil! Now we will have a bit of warm temps, but cool weather will be here on Friday night. Cora Berchem, Save the Manatee Club’s Videographer, filmed Phyllis after I left for Manatee Watch!!!

November 3, 2014

The St. Johns River temp continued down to 64.7 °F. I counted 80 manatees with more coming in as the count finished. All the calves we saw before the season are in, so Annie and her calf as well as Volusia and the twins are here along with many more calves! Annie is the first (and only) adoptee in for the season at Blue Spring so far. However, Merlin was sighted at Silver Glen! So was Poe, but he is not an adoptee or as old as Merlin. Now we will have warm weather until Saturday.

November 2, 2014

The low temperature at Blue Spring State Park was 38 °F, and the river temp plunged to 67 °F. Jocie was back with the calf she had at the very end of last season. It is a little boy named Quest. He is scarred now, so he needs a number. JJ was in the boil with her first calf, and the fat youngster I saw Friday with a calf was also in. So that is two of the pre-season calves in. There are four or five more to go, including Annie’s new calf and Volusia’s twins! The official count was 16, but I ID’d 17 manatees. Before we left the run, we had seen 22 manatees. I think this will be the start of the season!

October 31, 2014

With the park getting ready to close to swimming, diving, canoes, kayaks, etc. soon, my dive buddies and I are getting in our last dives of the season. I saw three manatees near the diver entry as we were leaving: a very young cow with no visible scars with a calf (that makes six calves, possibly seven!) and a juvenile. The river temp today was 74.4° — pretty much the same as yesterday. During the next four days we will have manatee weather (cooler) before it goes back to summer temps. I intend to do a count Sunday and Monday, then we will see. To declare the season started, I want to see at least 15 manatees the first morning between 8:00 and 10:00 a.m. and then at least 10 manatees the next two mornings between 8:00 and 10:00 a.m. This is to try and avoid a traveling group like a mating herd giving us a false start to the season. Saturday (tomorrow) and Tuesday I will be participating in the Volusia County Manatee Watch Program from 10:00 a.m. to noon. On Saturday we will be at the Marine Discovery Center in New Smyrna Beach and on Tuesday we will be at the Old Court House in Deland.

October 30, 2014

Things are cooling off and the webcams are being replaced, repaired, and upgraded. If you put a camera on top of a tall metal pole in a first-magnitude spring run, by the end of the thunderstorm season, you need to do something! The first real dip in the daily temps got me looking at the river temps at Sanford. Back on September 21st, the St. Johns River was near 85 °F. On September 26th, the river temp was 79.8°F. For the next couple of weeks, it went up and down between 80 and 77 °F. On October 20, it reached 75.3 °F. It has stayed below that, and on October 28th, it was 72.6 °F. On that day, the staff at Blue Spring State Park got 74.3 °F, but I do not know where in the river or at what time they took the temp. I used to take it well out in the river, away from the influence of the run, around 9:00 a.m.

Manatees out in the river system took note of the cooling and began to drop by to see if the spring was still there. Reassured, they go about their business until the real cold comes in. The park staff saw 11 manatees on October 27th and five the next day. The river temp today was 74.5 °F.

We have seen five calves during the summer: twins and three singles. That is a lot before the season starts. With 56 calves in the 2012–2013 season and 39 in the 2013–2014 season, I am looking for over 60 this season! A sixth calf may have been in the group on the 27th but no ID could be made. Remember, one of the calves was Annie’s girl, born in the spring boil this summer on the night of July 25! It will be a worry until all the manatees have made it to the spring for this winter.

Wayne Hartley is a Manatee Specialist for Save the Manatee Club. Before joining the Club, he was a Park Ranger and then a Park Service Specialist with the Florida Park Service. Wayne served for over three decades as Principal Investigator for manatee research conducted at Blue Spring State Park.

More Recent News

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.

Manatee Sighting Blog

The river temperature was pretty much the same as the spring temperature at 71.9°F (22.2°C). I counted 7 manatees, none of which were adoptees and they were all hanging out in the canoe basin by the river.  We didn’t do any counts yesterday and Wednesday, but adoptee Annie made a quick visit on Wednesday and was seen on the webcam. 

Rocket is always a bit shy and likes to take off when he sees the research canoe. He arrived for the season on December 21!

Manatee Sighting Reports: 2022 – 2023

Get the manatee sighting reports from our Blue Spring researchers for the 2022-2023 winter season.

Howie first showed up on November 8, 2021. His visits have been consistent with the chillier weather. Here he is on January 5, 2022.

Manatee Sighting Reports: 2021 – 2022

Get the manatee sighting reports from our Blue Spring researchers for the 2021-2022 winter season.