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Record-Breaking Manatee Gathering in Florida Lagoon (932 manatees)

Manatee Gathering in Florida
Credit: Blue Spring State Park

Let’s discover the fantastic record-breaking manatee gathering in Florida at Blue Spring State Park. Park officials counted 932 manatees.

Florida manatees have faced tough survival challenges in recent years. However, Blue Spring State Park recently reported a positive development. The park counted its largest-ever number of manatees. This record was achieved on the coldest morning of the season.

Record Number Counted at Blue Spring State Park

Manatee Gathering in Florida
Park Ranger Jonathan and Park Ranger Wes after their count this morning. Image via Blue Spring State Park, Facebook

On January 21, park officials counted 932 manatees. This surpassed the previous record of 736 manatees. The previous record was set on New Year’s Day this year. Park officials shared a photo of manatees huddled together in the water.

Cold Weather Brings Manatees Together

Image by somdul via Depositphotos

The record count happened on a very cold morning. The Save the Manatee Club noted the river temperature was 58.8 degrees Fahrenheit. Manatees gather in warm waters during winter. Cold weather drives them to seek warmer areas for survival.

Importance of Warm Water for Manatees

Manatee Family
Image by Noaa via Unsplash

Manatees are sensitive to cold temperatures. They gather in warm water areas like Blue Spring State Park. The park’s water stays at a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit. This warmth is crucial for their survival during winter.

Effects of Cold Water on Manatees

Manatees in Florida
Manatees in florida By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters – Endangered Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus)Uploaded by Dolovis, Public Domain,

Manatees cannot tolerate cold water for long. Exposure to colder water can lead to serious health issues. They can develop disorders similar to hypothermia or pneumonia in humans. These conditions can make them very sick.

Blue Spring State Park: A Sanctuary for Manatees

manatee under water
Endangered Florida Manatee Underwater with Snorkelers in Background. Image via Depositphotos

Blue Spring State Park is a key winter gathering site for manatees. The constant warm water attracts them. The park provides a safe haven during cold months. This sanctuary is vital for manatee survival.

Manatees’ Ongoing Struggle for Survival

Trichechus under water
Trichechus manatus latirostris underwater. Image via Reid, Jim P, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Florida manatees have faced high mortality rates since 2020. Over 550 manatees died last year. The leading causes were watercraft accidents and disease. The state is actively working to protect these animals.

Impact of Red Tide on Manatees

Endangered manatees congregate around the warm springs in Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. Some areas are roped off for their protection. (USFWS)

A significant red tide bloom caused about 20% of recent manatee deaths. Red tide is a harmful algae bloom producing natural toxins. These toxins can be deadly to marine life. Manatees affected by red tide struggle to breathe and move.

Manatees’ Food Shortages

Image by thediver123 via Depositphotos

Manatees have struggled to find adequate food sources. Seagrass and macroalgae have significantly declined. The state provided supplemental food to help. This effort reduced the number of starving manatees.

Media Coverage

YouTube video
“Florida state park sets record-breaking manatee count” via FOX35 Orlando, Youtube.

End of the Supplemental Feeding Program

Image by Galen Rathbun, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The state ended the supplemental feeding program in late 2023. Despite this, the unusual mortality event is not over. Manatees continue to face survival challenges. Ongoing efforts are needed to protect and support these gentle giants.

How amazing was this Manatee Gathering in Florida? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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