Where Do Manatees Go To Get Warm?

So how do manatees know when it’s time to find a hot springs or warm water to keep from dying? They don’t look overly intelligent, but somehow they know that water temperature dropping below 68 degrees can be fatal.  So they begin to move to warmer water.

Fortunately for them (and me!) this cold streak isn’t going to last long enough to drop the water temperature below 68 degrees, but whenever it’s chilly (and particularly when it’s gray and chilly), manatees somehow know to head for the state’s abundant natural hot springs, supplemented by power plants discharge water.

Since it was misting and too chilly to really enjoy doing anything yesterday, we escaped our cozy living quarters and visited Manatee Park, where the nearby power plant keeps the water in the high 70s – 80 year round.  Manatees were definitely congregating in the warm waters.

Manatees need air and surface usually every 3-4 minutes.  If they're swimming hard, it could be as often as every 30 seconds, if they're just laying on the bottom, they can last as long as 20 minutes.

Manatees need air and surface usually every 3-4 minutes. If they’re swimming hard, it could be as often as every 30 seconds, if they’re just laying on the bottom, they can last as long as 20 minutes.

I have to wonder with the current and volume of manatees if there’s any sea grass left to eat.  But maybe they swim out to the river to eat and back to the warm water to warm up.  Since they eat over 100 pounds of seagrass/vegetation a DAY, their meal require several hours.

Lots of manatees congregating at Manatee Park, Ft Myers, FL

Lots of manatees congregating at Manatee Park, Ft Myers, FL

Someone forgot to tell manatees that visitors to the park would be happier if they’d be a bit more photogenic, but they’re just not.  I overheard a small boy tell his grandma that he wanted to see the WHOLE manatee, not just a nose.  She wasn’t having much luck explaining that all you really see is the nose.  The boy was bored.  Too bad because they are fascinating creatures, but not photogenic…

But here are a few more photos, just for fun.

Manatees weren't the only ones enjoying the warm water.  A bunch of blue crabs were playing by the water's edge.

Manatees weren’t the only ones enjoying the warm water. A bunch of blue crabs were playing by the water’s edge.

Until this little stingray swam leisurely by - the crabs scattered fast!

Until this little stingray swam leisurely by – the crabs scattered fast!

I thought this cattle egret was lost, busy eying the manatees until I realized that a manatee is also called a

This cattle egret was busy eying the manatees. A manatee is also called a “Sea Cow”. So maybe the cattle egret wanted to sit on the sea cow’s back, just like they do cattle?

One last shot of one of hundreds of manatees busy trying to keep me from taking their photo!

One last shot of one of hundreds of manatees busy trying to keep me from taking their photo!

Do you have a favorite spot in Florida to watch manatees?  On a normal day, we watch them swim past our boat in the marina — the manatee parade swims in in the morning while we sip our coffee and swims out during sunset cocktail hour.  Please leave a comment and share your favorite spot to watch manatees, the weather’s not all that great here, maybe we’ll need another road trip!   Cheers!  Jan

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Blue Spring State Park not far from Orlando is a great place to watch manatees. In the winter, they have the run of the spring…no humans are allowed to swim there during manatee season. Save the Manatee has a webcam there so I can watch them, even from up here in the Great White North.
    Tampa Electric Manatee viewing center is also great. It’s free and has two controllable cams.
    Poor things have been very cold in Florida lately. Hope things warm up soon Jan!

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