I was reminded today about the manatee seeking warmer waters in the winter, which in turn reminded me of the many places where they can be found. I can well remember as a child visiting Manatee Springs (better know as just Manatee). This was when it was found in the middle of the woods only accessible by a two rut road that seemed to go on forever. Of course, now it is easily visited with a nice paved road, but still has untouched woods within the park area.
There are so many springs and so many state parks in this area featuring the places in Florida that are not as well-known and publicized as the beaches and coastal areas. Manatee is a first magnitude spring and boils up some 100 million gallons of water per day. It runs into the Suwannee River. (Spell check wants me to spell that with one “n” but they are wrong. Suwannee has two “n’s” and I will not be persuaded to remove one.)
For millennia, Manatee Springs and the surrounding area have provided a home site and livelihood for humans. Artifacts found in the spring and adjacent areas indicate that people have been living and raising their families here for at least 9,000 years. The arrival of Spaniards during the 1500s brought an end to a series of cultures that lived in harmony with the earth for thousands of years. In 1774, William Bartram, a naturalist, botanist and artist, traveled through the area while exploring the Southeast. Later, he wrote a book about his travels, in which he described Manatee Springs in detail and noted the presence of manatees.
The first-magnitude spring at this park produces an average of 100 million gallons of clear, cool water daily.
It’s cool, it’s crisp, it’s winter in north Florida!
So far it has been quite chilly and dry. This means manatees need the warmth of the springs, and because the levels tend to run low, they prefer to bask where the spring meets the Suwannee River. There they are bathed in the warmer waters that rush from the spring into the calmer river flow. If you love the outdoors, and a real experience in Mother Nature’s world, you will find beauty at Manatee Springs in any season. Enjoy the campground in the woods, where wildlife is very abundant. Swimming is always open and quite an experience when the air is cold and the water feels warmer.
January is Manatee Awareness Month at Manatee Springs. Special programs each Saturday starting January 8th.