ORANGE CITY, Fla. — As the coldest air of the season settles in, we're not the only ones dealing with the elements as Florida's manatees huddle up for warmth as well.
What You Need To Know
- Manatees gather at Blue Spring State Park to stay warm
- It is one of the largest winter gathering sites for Florida’s manatees
- Park staff, other groups look for sick manatees and take care of them
Manatees, also called the cows of the sea, find sanctuary at Blue Spring State Park in Volusia County.
The spring is one of the largest winter gathering sites for manatees in Florida.
Manatees depend on the constant 72-degree spring water temperature in the colder months, because they cannot tolerate water below 68-degrees for long periods.
Manatees are prone to cold-stress syndrome, which is like hypothermia and can get sick.
Park staff at Blue Spring look out for any sick-looking manatees and take care of them, if needed.
On Wednesday, the Save the Manatee Club counted 114 manatees at the spring.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission stated the St. Johns River temperature in Jacksonville is about 67 degrees, typically the water temperatures need to drop for a few days to see large numbers of manatees gathering in the spring.
Last winter, at least four manatees at the spring died of cold stress.
Save the Manatee Club officials say manatees only have about an inch of fat layer, so they cannot stay warm very well. The club helps to take care of the manatees that become sick.
On Wednesday, the club reported that it assisted in retrieving a dead manatee in the spring run, and it hoped FWC would figure out what happened to it.
The Crosby family from New York checks out the manatees when they visit. Hailey Crosby even loves to snap pictures of the wildlife.
"It's so cool to watch their movements, keep track of what they eat, how long they stay in a time period," Crosby said.
The family told us they saw about 50 or 60 manatees.
The Crosby's love to check out the gentle giants, no matter how many, to learn more about them.
"It's just cool to watch them swim under the water. Where we live we don't have that kind of stuff," mom Shannon Crosby said.
FWC said do not feed manatees, and do not touch or remove tracking devices.
To learn how you can help manatees, check out the Florida Fish and Wildlife website.