I am happy to say that I finally was able to view manatees in their natural habitat. Well, sort of. Let me explain. Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park primarily acts as a shelter, a refuge for weak or injured animals, birds and reptiles including manatees. Ranger Joe referred to their park as, "An assisted long-term care facility where the animals are fed, sheltered and cared." Some are returned to the wild, but most remain in the park for the rest of their natural life.
Homosassa Springs discharges 5 million gallons of fresh water every hour. Manatees visit the spring when ocean waters are cold. Unfortunately for us, they departed last week. They have 4 female manatees under their care and apparently their physical conditions are beyond rehabilitation. These four participate in the park's Manatee Educational Programs for tourists and for local elementary school children.
Manatees are huge herbivores mammals. Their favorite land food is Romaine Lettuce and lots and lots of it. They have to consume 10% of their weight to remain healthy. Manatees live in water temperature that is about 60 -67 degrees Fahrenheit. When the weather becomes warm, they migrate north sometime as far as North Carolina. They can weigh from 800 to 1,200 plus pounds and measure 9 to 12 feet, Females manatees are usually larger and heavier and their gestation period is 13 months.. Newborn baby manatees have an average weight of 66 pounds. Alligators won't attack them. Too large to swallow. Alligators go after smaller prey.
J.J. and I enjoyed a rare sunny but cold day in Florida. Please enjoy photos that were taken at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park.
Aloha -- Cathi