By Cora Berchem, Director of Multimedia and Manatee Research Associate
Manatee season was off to a slow start with warmer than average temperatures in November and early December, but the freeze over Christmas and another freeze the second weekend of January surely brought the manatees into Blue Spring. The park staff counted a record 729 manatees on January 17th, which is eight manatees higher than the previous record! All Save the Manatee Club adoptees, except for Lucille, have been seen this season, and we’ve gotten some great photos and video!
All activities conducted under permits DEP #02042213 and USFWS #MA791721-6. Sightings Update: Blue Spring Adoptees
Adoptee Annie still looks very pregnant! We are keeping a close eye on her and hopefully there will be a healthy calf sooner than later!
On December 29, adoptee Aqua was seen with her calf traveling through a large aggregation of manatees. Our research team counted over 400 manatees in the spring that morning.
Adoptee Deep Dent made his first season visit on December 26! Here is exploring the warm water at Blue Spring with some friends on December 27.
Flash is known to only make a few visits each season to Blue Spring, but we have seen him quite a few times this year! He made his first appearance on December 21.
It’s not often that two of our adoptees show up on camera together, but on December 29, Flash and Phyllis could be seen traveling through an aggregation together!
Floyd arrived for the winter season on Christmas Day, December 25 together with Doc. Here he is traveling through the Blue Spring sanctuary on December 29 as seen on our above-water webcam.
One of the oldest adoptees, Merlin made his first season visit on December 27.
Moo Shoo showed up for season on December 20. Here she is resting in the warm water of Blue Spring on January 20.
Adoptee Millie has been making more than usual visits to Blue Spring. It seems like she has picked this protected sanctuary as her winter home this year after alternating between Blue Spring, the Silver River, and Port Everglades in years past. Here she is traveling through Blue Spring on New Year’s Day.
Adoptee Paddy Doyle arrived for the season on December 21. Here he is snoozing under a log on January 20–no worries, although it looks like it, he was not stuck under the log!
Philip is often hard to photograph, but here he is on December 20, the first day our research team saw him this season!
Easy to identify by her many scars, Phyllis made her first season visit on December 20th and we photographed her one day later on December 21.
Early in the morning on January 22nd, adoptees . Paddy Doyle and Lenny were resting almost side by side in the warm water at Blue Spring
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.
Whiskers likes to hang out in the upper part of the spring run. His first season visit was on December 20, and here he is on January 17. Other Blue Spring Sightings
Sometimes the manatees on our webcam crack us up, like this juvenile checking something out under the stairs! We asked our social media followers to caption some stills from the video and got some fun results! “If I move up a little bit, can I hide underneath it?” “It can stay, looks like a worthwhile item” “Where’s the elevator?” “Good! No one found my cookie stash!!”
Bonus! We have a pair of twins at Blue Spring, which is exceptionally rare! Manatee Estel brought two calves of the same size in with her and they barely seem to leave her side, making our research team believe they are indeed twins. No word yet whether the calves are boys or girls (or one of each)!
Our research team is always excited when we see manatees at Blue Spring that have a long sighting history elsewhere! This one was labeled by our team “U89/22”, meaning the 89th manatee of the season who is well marked but we do not recognize them. It turns out he was last seen in 2010 in Riviera Beach! His sighting history goes back to the late 1990s in the Jacksonville area. (Information courtesy of Fish and Wildlife Research Institute)