Congrats are in order! Manatee fans are in love with the surprise new arrivals at Blue Spring State Park in Florida. Manatee twins are rare; they are born only 1.4 to 4 percent of the time in Florida. The last pair was seen in 2015.
Manatees overwinter in Blue Spring Park, which runs along the St. Johns River, about 35 miles northeast of Orlando. More than 700 came last year; this year, 688 have been identified, an additional 163 have not been identified, and there are 83 calves. So it looks like this year will yield a “bumper crop.”
Who Is Mom Estel?
Estel weighs about 900 pounds, on the small side for her age. Save the Manatee Club has been following Estel since November 2019. This is the first time she’s been seen with a calf (or two), so she’s between four and five years old, and the twins could be her first babies.
There Will Be A Baby Shower
What do they need? Shower gifts include vitamins, milk-replacement formula, and other supplies.
Best Time To See Manatees At Blue Spring State Park
Blue Spring State Park is open all year but the best time to see manatees is between November and March. This period is when the manatees leave the cold waters of the St. Johns River for the 72-degree Fahrenheit spring.
Pro Tip: The spring and spring run are closed to all water-related activities from mid-November through March to protect the manatees. These activities include swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, and boating.
How To See Manatees At Blue Spring State Park
You can follow a self-guided boardwalk through a lush area to an observation point. November through March is a great time to see them. You can also take a river cruise, where you might see manatees the rest of the year.
Fees And Hours
Entry is $6 per vehicle (two to eight people). Get more information on fees here. Hours are 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year.
Fun Facts About Manatees
- Manatees are said to have inspired mermaid legends. Christopher Columbus claimed he saw three “mermaids.” He wrote, “they are not so beautiful as they are said to be, for their faces had some masculine traits.”
- Manatees never leave the water; they typically come up for air every five minutes.
- Manatees are related to the elephant even more closely than they are to other marine animals. All manatee species belong to the mammalian order Sirenia, which they share with the dugong. This order shares common ancestors with the elephant, the aardvark, and the hyrax.
- Manatees eat a lot — more than a tenth of their weight each day. They are herbivores and not very selective ones — their diet includes more than 60 species of plants, but they primarily eat seagrass on the seafloor.
- Manatees usually move at about five miles an hour. However, they can cruise up to 15 miles per hour for short periods. Most of us have seen sea turtles with moss on their backs — manatees are equally as slow, so we often see algae and barnacles on their backs.
- Manatees can’t turn their heads as we do. They don’t have neck bones, so they must turn their bodies to get a good view.
See the following articles to learn more about visiting Florida: