Arguably one of the most adorable sea creatures, manatees are beloved in the Sunshine State. There are places in Florida you can even swim with manatees. Typically found grazing along grass flats and aquatic meadows from November to March, the West Indian manatees flock to Florida’s natural springs in winter in search of warmer temps.
As you practice social distancing and aren’t able to visit Florida’s top spots for manatee viewing, try spotting these chunky sea cows from your computer.
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Known as Florida’s gentle giants, spotting a manatee in their natural habitat is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as these wrinkled leathery creatures can tip the scales from 1,000-3,500 pounds. One of the most popular spots to capture a glimpse of one of Florida’s famous manatee residents is at Blue Springs State Park.
Located north of Orlando in Orange City, this park is a designated manatee refuge where visitors can come and see the growing population of West Indian Manatees at the spring’s overlooks. While it’s not possible to explore the park’s boardwalk and capture in-person views of the animals, the next best thing is to watch the manatees from an underwater cam.
This virtual escape allows animal lovers to watch the manatees at Blue Springs State Park from the comfort of their home. During the winter season, the cams are live feeds; however, now that that Spring has arrived and Florida’s weather is heating up, the park has created videos highlighting the best spottings from last season. Skip your next Netflix binge, this two-hour highlight reel is peak deep-sea entertainment!
If you’re patient, it’s also possible to spot other aquatic animals. Swimming around are catfish, tarpon, mullet, turtles and bass. Some of the fishes even get close to the manatees in order to nibble on the algae growing on their backs.
Perfect for when you need a break from overstimulation and online activity, these manatee cams offer a bucket list experience of exploring underwater life and seeing manatees in their natural environment. When Blue Spring State Park re-opens to the public, make sure to add it to your Florida itinerary, as its pedestrian-friendly boardwalk and interpretive displays provide history and education about the wildlife and ecological wonders of the area.
Covering more than 2,600 acres, it is the largest spring on the St. John’s River and the only state park system in the country to be awarded a National Gold Medal 3 times. Blue Springs State Park also offers plenty of outdoor recreation for nature enthusiasts, perfect for a day of swimming, kayaking and paddling through its crystal clear waters. Its lush hammock and cool waters offer much-needed relief from Florida’s summer sunshine, while boat tours operate narrated nature and ecological excursions throughout the area.
Blue Springs State Park:
Address: 2100 W French Ave, Orange City, FL 32763
Phone: (386) 775-3663
Check out the Blue Springs State Park Live Cams.
**If you love the idea of live animal cams, also make sure to check out Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s dolphin, turtle and otter live cams that show animals in their day to day life while attractions are currently closed.