With colder temps, now is the best time to see manatees in Central Florida

It's manatee time, baby.

Photo via Adobe Images

With temperatures in Central Florida hitting the low 30s Tuesday, most of us are staying in. Manatees, however, are out to play.

While the weather is cooling down, the water at Blue Spring State Park keeps a consistent temperature of about 72 degrees, according to Save the Manatee Club. This makes it the perfect environment for manatees, who need an environment at least as warm at 68 degrees to survive, to travel to from the cooler, surrounding waterways.

On Tuesday, Blue Spring State Park—located in Orange City, two hours north of downtown Tampa—counted 16 manatees, a significant increase from the five counted on Nov. 27.

Bad news if you’d like to see some manatees a little closer to Tampa Bay, however, because the Manatee Viewing Center at Apollo Beach is closed until Jan. 6 due to the pandemic.

For those who would like to watch the manatees from the warmth of their home, check out the live underwater and above-water webcams at Blue Spring State Park and Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.

The high visibility of manatees in Blue Spring State Park has produced one of the longest-running manatee genealogy records in Florida, according to Save the Manatee Club. It has also become a popular site for rehabilitated manatees to be released.

So far, 2020 has not been a good year for manatees, though. The Florida Wildlife Commission has reported 510 manatee deaths in Florida this year, up from the 457 reported for the same period in 2019. This increase could be due to more boat traffic as people searched for safe ways to spend their time amid the pandemic, the Tampa Bay Times reported. 

Save the Manatee Club also warns of the importance of water conservation, saying that water withdraws for development and human use threaten the important manatee habitat.

On this Giving Tuesday, consider donating or helping the club keep doing its research in order to help save Florida’s manatees.

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