Blue Spring State Park is located near Deland, FL. It is beautiful! The manatee come to Blue Spring to escape the cold winter waters of the St. Johns River. The campgrounds were very nice and very private. Each camp site was carved out of the scrub oaks and palmettos enough to give you lots of space along with all the privacy. We saw a wide variety of birds here also, cardinals, scrub jays, osprey, great blue heron, and many I wasn't familar with.
The tall, graceful sabal palm is all over Florida, but it is a main feature here in Blue Spring. This sign explains why it is Florida's State Tree! You can click on the photo to enlarge the photo!
As you can see, the graceful sabal palms grow to towering heights
This is a manatee in distress. It was just rescued from the river and is wearing a monitoring device attached to the tail. If you look carefully under the bushes, you will see other manatee resting in the shadows.
This is the second manatee we saw with a monitoring device attached to it's tail. If you look in the upper middle of the photo, you will see another manatee resting.
The manatee are odd looking creatures. Very gentle, even friendly. Their only enemy is man with his speedboats. Manatee have to surface frequently for air, speeding boat can shred the manatee with the boats propellers usually resulting in death or long rehab periods to regain health. We saw several badly scarred bodies while we were there.
This is a great Blue Heron, surveying the area for lunch and also watching the parade of manatee swim by. The manatee leave the warmth of the spring to re-enter the St. John's River in search for food. They can stay only a short time because prolonged temperatures of 60 degrees and colder will result in the death of these gentle mammals. The Great Blue Heron is a beautiful addition to the river.
When I took the photo below, the wind was blowing hard, causing ripples to distort the images of the manatee below the surface of the water. But there is a pod there of about a dozen or more manatee.
This slit in the earth is the "boil" of Blue Spring! Here hundreds of gallons of water come out with so much force, it sometimes makes the water look like it's boiling!
Many of the manatee hang out here near the vent or boil, because this is where the warmer water enters the stream that flows into the St. John's River. During the summer months, divers come to this park to explore the cave system down under the vent. Divers are not allowed during the winter migration of the manatee.
At Blue Spring, viewing the manatee is easy. The park has built several veiwing stations out over the river. Everyone gets a good photo to take home! On the far left, you see a mom and her calf
and one other adult heading to the river. The manatee in the lowest portion of the frame is headed back to the spring now that his/her tummy is full from feeding in the river.