Unprecedented Gathering of Manatees at Blue Spring State Park in Florida

Unprecedented Gathering of Manatees at Blue Spring State Park in Florida

Manatees, also known as sea cows, are typically solitary creatures. However, there has been an unusual and record-breaking gathering of nearly 1,000 manatees at Blue Spring State Park in Florida.

Record-Breaking Numbers

  1. Recent Count: Earlier this week, park rangers counted almost 1,000 manatees at Blue Spring State Park, a significant increase from the previous record of 736 on New Year’s Day 2024.
  2. Unusual Occurrence: According to Cora Berchem from Save the Manatee Club, this gathering is highly unusual, with a rapid increase in numbers.

Possible Reasons for Gathering

  1. Weather-Related Migration: Researchers speculate that the manatees’ gathering might be linked to recent weather conditions. The St Johns River, where the manatees usually reside, experienced a drop in temperature to 14.1C (58F), prompting the manatees to seek warmer waters at the park.
  2. Temperature Sensitivity: Manatees are sensitive to cold temperatures, and when the water temperature drops below 16C (60F), they may experience cold stress syndrome, potentially leading to health issues.
  3. Algae Blooms: The east coast of Florida has witnessed multiple algae blooms, causing the death of seagrass, the manatees’ primary food source. Red tide algae blooms have also claimed the lives of some manatees along the coastline.

Protected Sanctuary

  1. Unique Features of Blue Spring State Park: The park offers a protected sanctuary for manatees, prohibiting recreational activities like canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and swimming during the winter months (November through March).
  2. Safe Haven for Manatees: The park serves as a safe space for manatees, protecting them from potential injuries or fatalities resulting from collisions with watercraft.
  3. Experience-Based Gathering: Monica Ross suggests that manatees might be aware of the safety provided by Blue Spring State Park based on their previous experiences, making it a compelling reason for the unprecedented gathering.


While the exact reason for the massive manatee gathering remains uncertain, a combination of weather-related factors, sensitivity to cold temperatures, algae blooms affecting their food source, and the protected sanctuary of Blue Spring State Park could all contribute to this unique event.

Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs) with Answers

  1. What is the recent count of manatees at Blue Spring State Park?
    a. 736
    b. 1,000
    c. 500
    d. 800
    Answer: b. 1,000
  2. What is the primary reason speculated for the manatee gathering at the park?
    a. Algae Blooms
    b. Weather-Related Migration
    c. Recreational Activities
    d. Lack of Food
    Answer: b. Weather-Related Migration
  3. Why do manatees seek the warm waters of Blue Spring State Park during cold weather?
    a. To find a mate
    b. To escape predators
    c. To avoid cold stress syndrome
    d. To feed on seagrass
    Answer: c. To avoid cold stress syndrome
  4. What activity is prohibited in Blue Spring State Park during the winter months to protect manatees?
    a. Hiking
    b. Swimming
    c. Canoeing
    d. Bird watching
    Answer: c. Canoeing
  5. According to Monica Ross, why might manatees be gathering at Blue Spring State Park?
    a. Abundance of food
    b. Safe experiences
    c. Warm weather
    d. Recreational activities
    Answer: b. Safe experiences