Research at Blue Spring has been taking place since the early 1970s, and some of the adoptable manatees have been sighted regularly since it began.


Give gifts of comfort and joy this holiday season when you Adopt-A-Manatee® from Save the Manatee Club (SMC). These symbolic adoptions of real, living Florida manatees make a thoughtful present for family and friends and support manatee protection efforts like research, rescue, and rehabilitation.

Each manatee adoption includes a personalized adoption certificate along with a photo and biography of your selected individual manatee. There are over 30 manatees to choose from. Most are studied by Save the Manatee Club’s research team in their winter habitat at Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Florida. Others are monitored by manatee research partners in the Tampa Bay area, at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, along the east coast of Florida, or even in Alabama. Every adoptable manatee has a unique name, a distinguishing scar or marking, and an interesting story.

Merlin the manatee
Merlin, who visits Blue Spring State Park in the winter, is one of over 30 manatees available for adoption through Save the Manatee Club.

From November to March, manatees flock to warm-water habitats such as natural springs or power plant effluents to avoid life-threatening cold temperatures. Blue Spring State Park is just one of these critical warm-water sites where manatees gather by the hundreds. During the winter, they are monitored by the Save the Manatee Club research team of Wayne Hartley, Manatee Specialist, and Cora Berchem, Manatee Research Associate and Director of Multimedia. “During the winter, Wayne and I count each manatee and identify individuals by their scar patterns,” Cora explains. “We also take notes on changes from previous years, such as new calves or new scars from watercraft collisions.” This research is then contributed to a statewide database utilized by other government and private partners to study manatee genealogy, behavior, and migration patterns.

Research at Blue Spring has been taking place since the early 1970s, and some of the adoptable manatees have been sighted regularly since it began, including Merlin, first recorded in 1970, and Lily, first recorded in 1974. When Berchem joined Save the Manatee Club, she adopted Merlin, fascinated by his age and strength. “The older manatees have shown so much resiliency” she says. “They’ve faced horrific boat strike injuries and habitat destruction but still return to Blue Spring year after year.

Manatee researchers Cora Berchem and Wayne Hartley.
In the winter months, Cora Berchem and Wayne Hartley team up to conduct manatee research at Blue Spring State Park.

Adopting a manatee like Merlin helps support these decades-long research efforts, along with manatee rescues, rehabilitation, and releases. With imperiled manatees on the east coast of Florida suffering from malnourishment due to massive seagrass losses, many rescues are anticipated for this winter. “This is in addition to the rescues that will be regularly needed throughout the state for sick and injured manatees or orphaned calves,” says Berchem. Sick, injured, or orphaned manatees should be immediately reported to the FWC at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922).

Giving an Adopt-A-Manatee membership can truly make a difference for manatees this winter. Adoptions start at $25, and for a limited time, adoptions at the $35 or higher level also include a 2022 manatee wall calendar. To Adopt-A-Manatee, visit or call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646). Please order by Sunday, December 12th for arrival before the holidays.

2022 Manatee Wall Calendar
For a limited time, Adopt-A-Manatee® at $35 or higher and get a free 2022 manatee wall calendar.