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Manatees at Blue Spring State Park

The spring water at Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Florida remains a constant 72 degrees, making the waters an ideal place for the West Indian Manatees to swim.

Every year from mid-November through mid-March, the state park closes down all water sports and recreational use of the water in order to protect the naturally warm spring water habitat that has become a favorite manatee hangout in Central Florida.

The spring is the largest located along the St. John’s River, and the warm temperature of the 100 million gallons of water that flow into the river every day make this an especially attractive waterway for manatees during the cooler winter months.

Manatee Observation

Because of the large number of West Indian Manatees that make their way to Blue Spring, it has become a popular destination for wildlife and manatee observation.

The park was formerly private land, but the Florida Department of Environmental Protection acquired the land in order to start the Manatee Protection Program.

Blue Spring State Park is a well-maintained park with numerous manatee viewing areas on their boardwalks and spring overlook areas.

Also, every year the Manatee Festival is held at Blue Spring State Park.

The festival is held during peak viewing times and also includes entertainment, games, and food. Blue Spring State Park offers year-round wildlife observation, hiking, and camping.

Throughout the peak manatee viewing months of November through March, the park offers varied, ranger led manatee programs for park visitors.

If you are visiting the park on a weekend, it is recommended to arrive early as parking can fill quickly.

Concessions are offered at the park, and cabin and campsite rentals are managed at the headquarters there are well.

If you are looking to swim with these sea cows, there is an excursion with transportation to the Crystal river on Saturdays.

By Marie Ospina

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