Wayne Hartley, Manatee Specialist, and Cora Berchem, Manatee Research & Multimedia Specialist in the research canoe at Blue Spring State Park.
Wayne Hartley, Manatee Specialist, and Cora Berchem, Manatee Research & Multimedia Specialist, take “manatee roll call” at Blue Spring State Park.

Manatee Reports from Blue Spring State Park

by Wayne Hartley, Manatee Specialist, and Cora Berchem, Manatee Research & Multimedia Specialist

January 27, 2020

The river temperature was at 16° C (60.8° F). The park staff counted 417 manatees, but I only counted 375, so I may have missed a few. Sometimes when there are a lot of manatees in one spot, it is easier to count from the boardwalk. The SMC adoptees in were Aqua, Floyd, Lily, Howie, Una with calf, Moo Shoo with calf, Deep Dent, and Nick. Philip, Lucille, and Paddy Doyle showed up late today.

January 26, 2020
The river temp was 59° F (15° C). In spite of the colder water, I had 22 fewer manatees today. The number for roll call was 313 manatees. The Save the Manatee Club adoptees in for the second day of Manatee Festival were Nick, Lily, Floyd, Una with calf, Whiskers, Moo Shoo with calf, Aqua, Philip, and Howie.

January 25, 2020
The river temp went up a degree to 61° F (16° C). The number of manatees went up as well, though it should not have, to 335. This was a good thing for the Manatee Festival! The Save the Manatee Club adoptees I saw during roll call were Paddy Doyle, Moo Shoo with calf, Una (I am sure the calf was somewhere near), Lily, Whiskers, Philip, and Deep Dent. Cora noticed a manatee with a belt, but no transmitter, so we got the canoe out and found Ansel had lost his tag. That problem was being addressed as I left. Cora reports that adoptees Howie and Nick joined the crowd in the afternoon.

January 24, 2020
The air temperature came up a lot, but the river temperature had only come up slightly to 15.5° C (60° F). The manatees were all moving around, coming and going and stirring up the clay. The park staff counted 358 manatees, but I only counted 325. I also counted one hour after the park did their count as I was busy trying to get the above-water webcam back to work (it is now back up!). The Save the Manatee Club adoptees seen were Doc, Whiskers, Nick, Paddy Doyle, Howie, Moo Shoo with her calf, Una with her calf, Lenny, Phyllis, and AnnieFloyd and Philip showed up after the count was over. This weekend is the big Manatee Festival, so there should definitely be some manatees around for the visitors to see!

January 23, 2020
The river temperature was a true 59° F (15° C) today. The park staff counted 534 manatees, and I only counted 411. However I was distracted by having a large camera aboard with its operator. Conditions were good for filming, and we spent a good long time on the run. I was able to spot Save the Manatee Club adoptees Howie, Philip, Margarito, Lily, Doc, Moo Shoo with calf, Phyllis, Aqua, Una with calf, Floyd, Paddy Doyle, and Deep Dent among the 229 I ID’d. Cora saw Nick from the boardwalk after the count was done.

January 22, 2020
The river temperature I got was 64° F (18° C), which had to be influenced by the warm spring water being blown south in the river by the wind. The wind was so violent that a proper count was impossible from the canoe. The park staff counted 449 manatees from shore, which certainly sounds correct to me! Of those, 58 manatees were ID’d — half from the boardwalk after the roll call was over. The Save the Manatee Club adoptees spotted were Floyd, Paddy Doyle, Nick, Doc, and Philip. Many more may have been present. The wind is due to let up before morning, and we hope for better tomorrow.

January 21, 2020
The river temp has continued to drop and is now at 62.5° F (17° C). We have jumped from 23 manatees counted yesterday to 149 manatees today. The park staff counted 179 before we counted and felt there was many more hidden by the mist off the spring run. We also felt we undercounted, but our problem was the 10-15 mph winds with gusts up to 20 mph. Sometimes we can get in ahead of the wind, but not today. We did see Save the Manatee Club adoptee Una and her calf and hope for more adoptees tomorrow as the water gets colder, even with the wind due to continue.

January 20, 2020
The river temp had dropped all the way to 64° F (18° C). The park staff counted 38 manatees, but we could only find 23, although some were still coming in after the roll call was over. We ID’d 23 manatees, but only one was a Save the Manatee Club adoptee. That was Una, and she and her calf were almost in the springhead. There should be many more manatees as the week goes on.

January 17, 2020

The river temp is up to 71° F (21.5° C). The park staff counted two manatees after an initial zero. My official count was one, but another manatee was picked up late. It already feels cooler! Next week should be much better!

January 15, 2020
I rounded the river temp off to 70° F (20.9° C). The park staff counted two manatees. I had to beat them, so I counted three. While I was up the run, two manatees left and another came in so I saw four total! None were Save the Manatee Club adoptees, but Una and her calf did us the favor of coming in at about 11:00 hrs. Una was caught on the webcam. Weather prediction remains the same: getting cooler starting Saturday night.

January 14, 2020
The river was up to 68° F (20° C) and only seven manatees were counted. None were adoptees. After the count was over, adoptee Una and her calf came in.

January 13, 2020

The river temp is up to 67° F (19.5° C) today. We saw 17 manatees for the count and none were Save the Manatee Club adoptees. Because of the warm weather, I imagine that will be the case with fewer numbers each day until next Monday or the day after. With all done, we found Una and her calf near the river so at least we got on adoptee in.

January 12, 2020
The weather is warming up and the river temperature was at 65.3° F (18.5° C). I counted 74 manatees, and most of them were congregated right down by the river ready to go out to feed. The only adoptees in this morning were Una with her calf and Rocket. However, Floyd came in late and posed for a nice picture.

January 10 – 11, 2020
(Wayne) On Friday, the river temp was 63° F (17° C) today. I counted 303 manatees, and the park staff counted 300. Of these, 250 of these were crowded together near the river. It is warmer and scheduled to get even warmer, and they know it. They are waiting to get out to the river salad bar where many of the others are already! Our Save the Manatee Club adoptees in today were Howie, Nick, Phyllis, Philip, Una with calf, Lily, and Whiskers. (Cora) On Saturday, the river temperature surprisingly stayed at 17° C (63° F), although the air warmed up. Many manatees had left for the river to feed, and the remaining ones were clustered near the river. A total of 175 manatees were counted. The adoptees in were Una and Moo Shoo with their calves, Nick, Floyd, Philip, and Deep Dent. Paddy Doyle came in after the count was over.

January 9, 2020
This is one of those odd days with a lot of hurry and not much getting done. I did not get the river temp or a count. The park staff counted a record number of manatees this morning — 566! The previous record had been 558 in one day early last year. From the boardwalk, Cora ID’d 179 manatees. Among them were Save the Manatee Club adoptees Annie, Deep Dent, Nick, Phyllis, Philip, Moo Shoo with calf, Una with calf, Aqua, Lily, Paddy Doyle, Merlin, Doc, Floyd, and Howie.

January 8, 2020

Today the river temp was 61° F (16° C). We counted 497 manatees. The Save the Manatee Club adoptees were Lucille, Howie, Nick, Lenny, Lily, Phyllis, Una, Deep Dent, Floyd, Philip, Merlin, Paddy Doyle, and Whiskers. Doc took Philip’s place as the late guy. It was good to see Lucille and Merlin again.

January 7, 2020
Here we go again. Got a river temp of 64° F (18° C). A little higher than yesterday. We counted 462 manatees, and I believe that was a low count. We could not see them in the lower run unless we passed right over them. Murky water and glare from the sun. Save the Manatee Club adoptees present were Lily, Nick, Una with calf, Aqua, Howie, Annie, Lenny, Floyd, Doc, Deep Dent, Paddy Doyle, and Moo Shoo with calf. Philip came in late again!

January 6, 2020
The river temp is down to 63.4 ° F (17° C). We counted 353 manatees. The Save the Manatee Club adoptees that were in were Paddy Doyle, Lily, Moo Shoo with calf, Annie, Floyd, Whiskers, Aqua, Rocket, and Deep Dent. Philip joined in late! It was a little cool at first but became a beautiful day for seeing manatees at the park. Cora did a livestream from the run for our Facebook page and in the right locations the pictures were wonderful. Manatees were posing like crazy — especially Aqua. Aqua has always been a ham! After the count was over, Cora spotted Nick, Phyllis, and Una with her calf (Una also posed). She also saw Dogwood, and Hadar and her calf came right up to the second overlook. The visitors were ecstatic!

January 3, 2020
The river temperature was up to 66.2° F (19° C). The park staff counted 123 manatees, and I counted 157. It was extremely windy, which made identification and maneuvering around the manatees very difficult. Adoptees Una and Phyllis made roll call and Howie showed up after the count was over. Two days ago we, as well as our partners at FWC, received a report from a concerned citizen about a manatee mom with calf in the Wekiva River where it is rare to encounter manatees. The citizen sent some photos of the pair, and we were able to identify the mother as BS622 “Peyton,” who we had already seen at Blue Spring this season. Since Peyton is an experienced mom and both she and the calf seemed in good body condition, it was decided that they would most likely be fine unless they got stuck when water levels dropped. This morning we were happy to see both Peyton and the calf back at Blue Spring! Apparently they had decided to go on a long swim for New Year’s but decided that they preferred it at Blue Spring!

January 1-2, 2020
The river temperature was at 18.5° C (65.3° F) both days, but the manatee count went up from 73 on Wednesday to 192 on Thursday. Wednesday the only adoptee in was Una with her calf — it seemed like many others were still out in the river celebrating the new year. Today Una was joined by Annie, Rocket, Floyd, and Lily.

December 31, 2019
The river temp was 68° F (20° C), but the count was down to three manatees. I was cold but obviously the manatees were not. No Save the Manatee Club adoptees were present.

December 30, 2019
Well the river temp was 70° F (21° C). I counted eight manatees going up the run and four coming down the run. I ID’d four and one of those was Save the Manatee Club adoptee Una. Una’s calf was with her. It will be colder later in the week and more manatees will be in.

December 26 – 27, 2019
On December 26th, the river temp was 65° F (18.5° C). With the increase and the warm weather, we expected fewer manatees, but instead we counted 226 manatees. We saw Save the Manatee Club adoptees Flash, Nick, Whiskers, Una with calf, Moo Shoo with calf, and Aqua. Moo Shoo had her calf, another calf, a yearling and two juveniles trying to nurse on her. It can be trying to be a mother manatee! On December 27th, the river temp was up to 66° F (19° C). The park staff counted 54 manatees, and we counted 90. With most of the manatees in a tight group near the river, it is easier to count from the canoe as Cora and I do than it is from the boardwalk, as the park staff does. The Save the Manatee Club adoptees that were in were Lily, Floyd, Una with calf, and Aqua. The number of manatees present should continue going down for several days as the warmer weather continues.

December 24, 2019

The river temperature was 63.5° F (17.5° C), and although the air temperature was 55° F, it felt chilly with the wind and drizzly rain, which picked up during the count. The park staff counted 130 manatees, and I counted 152. The only adoptee in was Una with her calf — maybe everyone else is out holiday shopping and getting an early Christmas dinner in the river! We didn’t do any counts the past two days due to rain but did see at least Annie and Deep Dent on the webcam.

December 21, 2019
The river warmed up slightly to 64.4° F (18° C), and the manatee count dropped slightly to 338. But the Save the Manatee Club adoptees seemed to have all talked to each other and decided to come in today! Annie, Flash, Phyllis, Lily, Lucille, Margarito, Howie, Lenny, Una with her calf, Moo Shoo with her calf, Nick, Paddy Doyle, Merlin, and Gator made the count. Floyd, Deep Dent, and Brutus showed up after the count was over! This was Brutus’ first visit to Blue Spring this season, which was exciting! He had been seen at a spring to our north by fellow researchers, but it is nice to see him at Blue Spring with the others! Bertram (one of Phyllis‘ twin sons) was in again, too. The weather for the next two days looks very rainy and windy, so we probably won’t get a count again until Tuesday.

December 20, 2019
The river temp was the same today, 62.6° F (17° C), but the manatee count was up considerably to 427. The park staff count of 494 was probably closer to correct! I got to see Lucille, Howie, Philip, Doc, Moo Shoo with calf, Merlin, Lily, and Gator of the Save the Manatee Club adoptees. I am not sure he did it, but Howie was under the canoe when it gave a tremendous bounce. The only thing that seemed to suffer was my scar drawings.

December 19, 2019
The river temp today was 62.6° F (17° C). It was more than five degrees lower than yesterday, and the manatees responded. We counted 329 manatees in spite of the wind. We were able to ID Save the Manatee Club adoptees Una with her calf, Deep Dent, Philip, Howie, Whiskers, Paddy Doyle, Aqua, and Floyd. We also got to welcome Bertram. Bertram and Bartram were Phyllis’ twins and her first calves back in 1991. We last saw Bertram in Blue Spring during the 2007-08 season, but we know he hangs out at springs to our north. Unfortunately, we have not seen Bartram since Spring 2013.

December 18, 2019
The river temp was 67.8° F (19.9° C). The weather was not too cold, but the dampness and the wind made it feel so. The manatees agreed. The park staff counted 11, then I counted 23, and before I got off the run there was over 30! Tomorrow should be interesting. No Save the Manatee Club adoptees were sighted today.

December 17, 2019
The river temperature had come up to 67.1° F (19.5° C), and I only counted 43 manatees. Park staff counted even less. No adoptees were seen, but conditions were good with clear water and no wind to take some photos for scar identification. This is an important part of the work we do every winter as each manatee needs to be photographed and drawn, especially if it has gotten any new scars or old scars have healed and changed. We share this data with our partners at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Sirenia Project for inclusion in the statewide manatee ID database. It gets very interesting when we see animals we have never seen before but then find out they have a long sighting history along the east coast of Florida prior to showing up at Blue Spring. The weather is supposed to cool down a bit after today, so we may see more manatees over the next few days.

December 16, 2019
The river temperature had come up slightly to 66.2° F (19° C). Park staff counted 65 manatees, and I counted around 90, but my count got thrown off as I was trying to locate the manatee entangled in the bicycle tire. A large group of cavorting manatees made its way down the spring run, picking up more and more participants as they went. Unfortunately, the bicycle tire entangled manatee left into the river before rescue crews arrived, and he did not return. The only adoptee seen today was Una and her calf. Since one of our partner researchers from Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute (CMARI) was at the park, she was able to cut off a large portion of the fishing line that was wrapped around Una’s left flipper including multiple sinkers. Cases like Una’s remind us of the importance to always discard trash and fishing line in appropriate bins and trash cans so manatees and other wildlife do not get entangled in it. If you see an entangled manatee, please report it to FWC at 1-888-404-3922 so trained staff can remove the entanglement safely.

December 14-15, 2019
Park staff counted 35 manatees on Saturday. Save the Manatee Club didn’t do a count in the morning due to thunderstorms and 15 mph winds, making it impossible to go out on the canoe without disturbing a bunch of manatees. We counted 48 manatees around 11 a.m., but none of them were adoptees. It got colder overnight, and on Sunday morning the river temperature was down to 65.3° F (18.5° C.). The park staff counted 107 manatees, and Save the Manatee Club counted 112. Una with her calf and Merlin were the adoptees who made roll call. Rocket came in after the count was over. During the warm weather this past week, the manatees went out, and so did the boaters. A number of manatees have come back in with new scars that we draw and photograph. None seem severe, but it is still important to note. We are still on the lookout for the manatee entangled in the bike tire and are working with our partners to organize another rescue attempt when he is sighted again and conditions allow a capture.

December 13, 2019:
The river temp was 67° F (19.5° C). There were 60 manatees counted and none were Save the Manatee Club adoptees. They did get the tag on the manatee’s belt they were looking for yesterday, but he did not like it and shook it off. All were glad when I found it near the spring boil and brought it back!

December 12, 2019
The river temp has increased to 66° F (19° C). In spite of that, I was cold last night, and I guess the manatees were as well as the number almost doubled at roll call from yesterday to 112. Still no Save the Manatee Club adoptees present. An effort was made to retag a manatee that still needs observation since he was raised in captivity. He was located in the run from his belt signal, and I found him visually. As we waited for the swimmer who had the new satellite tag, a black vulture landed on a branch of a tree that had fallen in the spring run and died. The branch, which was sticking out of the water, broke and fell in the water. It was quite large. Manatees were fleeing in all directions, and research canoes were bobbing and threatening to turn over. My comment was “Oh, we needed that!” Our manatee calmed back down a little, but they still hadn’t got his new tag on when I left.

December 11, 2019
The river temp was 65° F (18.5° C). The manatee count was 57. No Save the Manatee Club adoptees were seen.

December 10, 2019
The river temp today was up to 64° F (18° C). The manatees in were near the river. The park staff counted 196 manatees. We were involved with a manatee that needed assistance with an entanglement. We spent a great deal of time on the run but never got to count and did not manage to capture the young male with a problem. We did ID about 65 manatees, and I guess you could say the only Save the Manatee Club adoptee to be seen, Una, wasn’t late, even though she came in around 12:30 p.m. I have finally seen Una with a calf, and it seems devoted to her. I will think about that.

December 9, 2019
Temps going up, number of manatees counted going down. The river temp today was 63° F (17° C). My count was 226 manatees. For the near future it will get even lower as the temps are going up and the manatees know it. They have fine internal barometers. At the start of the count there was a mob near the mouth of the spring run. As the count went on, the few up the run were drifting down to join the group waiting to go out. Our Save the Manatee Club adoptees in today were Una (I have yet to see her near a calf), Paddy Doyle, Deep Dent, Gator, and Moo Shoo with calf.

December 7-8, 2019:
On Saturday the river temperature was still at 60.8° F (16° C), but by Sunday it had come up to 62.6° F (17° C). Many manatees were heading towards the river, especially in the course of the day, as the air was really warming up. On Saturday I counted 374 manatees but had a feeling I undercounted. The park staff counted many more than me. The adoptees in were Lucille, Una with her calf, Philip, Margarito, Deep Dent, Floyd, Lily, Annie, Paddy Doyle, Phyllis, Moo Shoo with her calf, Flash, Whiskers, Doc, and Gator. Rocket and Howie arrived after the count was over. On Sunday I counted 319 manatees, but the park staff counted over 400. They counted earlier than me, so many manatees were headed towards the river by the time I started. Adoptees Phyllis, Deep Dent, Rocket, Gator, Lily, Doc, and Moo Shoo with her calf were in. Moo Shoo had three additional youngsters in tow and was right in front of the aluminum platform where the visitors enjoyed seeing her. Annie arrived after roll call was over.

December 6, 2019
The river stayed at 16° C. (60.8° F), and I counted 444 manatees, including adoptees Doc, Paddy Doyle, Lenny, Lily, Lucille, Una with calf, Gator, Philip, Phyllis, Floyd, Flash, Margarito, and Whiskers! It is warming up a bit now in the afternoons, so many manatees start heading out into the river to feed. Over the past days, we got quite a few questions about whether we feed the manatees at Blue Spring, to which the answer is “No.” They are wild animals and will go out into the river to feed. Feeding or giving manatees water is against the law as it habituates them to people and makes them prone to approach docks and boats waiting for handouts. Tomorrow we will be having our first Education Day of the season at Blue Spring from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., and we expect quite a few manatees to be around for the public to see!

December 5, 2019:
The river temp was 60.8° F (16° C), and I counted 496 manatees. The park staff even counted 525! While I was starting to paddle up the run, something further up the run must have scared the manatees, as many of them came swimming down very fast, making counting and identification almost impossible. The adoptees seen were Howie, Lucille, Floyd, Magarito, Lily, Philip, Una with calf, Deep Dent, Merlin, Paddy Doyle, Phyllis, Whiskers, Flash, Gator, Moo Shoo with calf and Aqua! We also just got an update from our partner researchers from Clearwater Marine Research Institute that Brutus was seen at a spring North of Blue Spring!

December 4, 2019
The river temp was 63° F (16.5° C) today. I counted 425 manatees. The Save the Manatee Club adoptees in for roll call were Lucille (my first sighting this season), Margarito, Lenny, Doc, Deep Dent, Aqua, Paddy Doyle, Floyd, Rocket, Gator, Moo Shoo with little Moo Shoo, and Phyllis. Flash was late, but it was nice he dropped in!

December 3, 2019
Merlin is in! He was on the webcam the 29th and the 30th of November but did not make roll call until today. The other Save the Manatee Club adoptees that joined him were Deep Dent, Lily, Nick, Floyd, Paddy Doyle, Whiskers, Gator, Annie, Doc, and Aqua. All of the adoptees have appeared this season except Brutus. The river temp was 64° F (17.5° C). We counted 295 manatees. There are more new manatees every day. To do a quick and perhaps rather inaccurate rundown on the number of manatees in: 50 Calves, 282 returned from last season, 5 returned from seasons before last season, 76 well marked but unknown to me, 36 poorly marked that I hope I can track through the season for a minimum total of 452. Even these numbers have not settled down, so I say the count could be inaccurate at this time. In addition, I have given little consideration to the unmarked juveniles that will have to be included somehow.

December 1, 2019

The river temperature was up to 68° F (20° C.) The park staff counted 136 manatees but said many of them were heading downstream toward the river. I counted 105 manatees. The only adoptee seen was Phyllis, heading downstream as well. The manatees are most likely stocking up on some food in the river before the next cold front, which is expected to hit early this week, so we should be seeing higher numbers again.

November 29, 2019
The river temperature was up to 66° F (19° C). The park staff counted 90 manatees, but they told me upon arrival that it had been foggy and the manatees had stirred up the bottom playing in the clay, so the count may not have been accurate. I confirmed that the manatees had indeed played in the clay, which made identification rather difficult. I counted 194 manatees. Among them were adoptees Lenny, Flash, Una, and Lily. Annie showed up after the count was over — she must have been Black Friday shopping in the river or eating Thanksgiving leftovers.

November 28, 2019
The river temp was up to 65.3 F (18.5C) today and 205 manatees were counted. Among them were adoptees Rocket, Lenny, Gator, Floyd, and Una. We saw a manatee on the above water webcam last week and finally in person yesterday and today. It reminded us of Homer II (a well known, long-term Blue Spring manatee) with terrible new scars. However, we saw Homer II last week with no new scars. We photographed his “twin” and forwarded our pictures to USGS to see if the manatee was in the statewide database and it was! It turned out to be a manatee with the ID number EC023 that was last seen in 2014 in Brevard County and Jacksonville!

November 27, 2019
The river temp was back up to 64.4° F (18° C) today but the count was higher. We saw 232 manatees. New for the season arrivals keep coming in. Most satisfying are manatees that missed last season but are back now! Among the Save the Manatee Club adoptees in today were Una (and maybe a calf? We are working on a decision on that.), Philip, Nick, Annie, Floyd, and Gator. Then here came Rocket down from the boil! Now all we need are Brutus and Merlin!

November 26, 2019
The river temp was back to 63° F (17.5° C). Cora and I counted 218 manatees. Save the Manatee Club adoptees in were Floyd, Philip, and Moo Shoo with calf. Lily was late again.

November 25, 2019
The river was up to 64° F (18° C). Our count was 203 manatees. The adoptees present for roll call were Philip, Annie, and Aqua. Aqua may have had her yearling with her. As a bonus, Lily was late. Now the weather will warm for a while.

November 22, 2019
The river temperature was up a degree to 64.4° F (18° C). I counted 231 manatees and the park staff counted exactly 231 as well! It is rare that we get the exact same count. Manatee adoptee Lucille made her first season appearance. Phyllis, Deep Dent, Floyd, Gator, and Whiskers also made roll call today. Last season, along with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and park staff, we were closely monitoring a manatee that was only able to swim on its side. We nicknamed him the “Sideswimmer,” but he escaped several rescue attempts. We thought he may not make it through the summer, but today he came back and he seems a little bit better. We will monitor him closely. With the afternoons warming up a bit, many manatees were headed toward the river to feed at the end of roll call.

November 21, 2019
The river temp was up a degree to 63° F (17° C). Cora and I counted 261 manatees. There were 31 more than yesterday as we started earlier. Adoptees Doc and Deep Dent were in for their first visits and met up with Nick, Philip, Lily, Una, Paddy Doyle, and Gator.

November 20, 2019
The river temp was down another degree to 62° F (16.5° C). The park staff counted 374 manatees, but Cora Berchem, our Manatee Research & Multimedia Specialist, and I only counted 230 manatees. We counted later than the park, and I think many manatees were anticipating a short warm spell, so they left. The air temp was 70° F (21.2° C) before we finished the count. We confirmed Whiskers was in yesterday and saw Annie for the first time this season. Lily and Gator also made roll call. Flash was late! We have a very tiny mom with a very tiny calf (naturally) that have a few very tiny barnacles. I have never had a calf with barnacles in the run before.

November 19, 2019
The river temp went down a degree to 65.3° F (17° C), and the number of manatees went up to 275! Nick, Margarito, Lenny, Floyd, and Flash came in to join Moo Shoo, Philip, and Gator. Una was seen but missed roll call. Moo Shoo has a calf, but Una does not seem to have one. We are still waiting for Annie, Brutus, Deep Dent, Doc, Lucille, Merlin, Rocket, and Whiskers. Cora Berchem, our Manatee Research & Multimedia Specialist, and I keep thinking or hoping we have seen Whiskers but haven’t pinned the ID down yet. Playful manatees are stirring the clay up in the run, so it is hard to count, let alone ID.

November 18, 2019:
While I have been watching the weather and the river temperatures from a distance, the real weather at Blue Spring has been very different! The river temp has reached 64° F (17.5° C). The manatee count from the park staff reached 58 on Sunday. At least 24 were in on Saturday. The count was only 15 on Friday, November 15th, but I have made it the start of the manatee season as the count was made in pouring rain and wind conditions. The number of manatees present was much higher — they could just not be counted because of the weather. Cora Berchem, our Research & Multimedia Specialist, has been at the park working on the webcams and saw Lily, Gator, and Una. Today Cora and I counted 249 manatees. The adoptees were Lily, Howie, Phyllis, Philip, Paddy Doyle, Una, Moo Shoo, and Gator! Quite a crop for our first day counting. Some observers thought Una had a calf. Moo Shoo might have a calf. We are still checking on that. Many calves in, and it is already like herding cats to keep track of them.

Wayne Hartley is a Manatee Specialist for Save the Manatee Club. Before joining the Club, he was a Park Ranger and then a Park Service Specialist with the Florida Park Service. Wayne served for over three decades as Principal Investigator for manatee research conducted at Blue Spring State Park.

Read Wayne’s reports from the 2018 – 2019 Manatee Season