8. Feb, 2016

Warm-water refuges for manatees

Manatees have a difficult time staying warm in cold water, due to their  large size, slow movements and thin skin that lacks  a protective layer of fat or ‘blubber’. So they rely on refuges where water temperature remains fairly constant during  the winter, when  sea  water temperature goes below 68°F. This includes natural springs, thermal basins and power plants. A famous spring on Florida’s West Coast  were female Forida manatees and their calf’s gather during the winter months is Three Sister Springs,  It’s a true oasis of pristine ground water located in the heart of Crystal River, Forida and a favorite spot for snorkeling  photographers and manatee lovers. The water temperature remains at a constant 72°F,  an ideal setting for hundreds of manatees seeking shelter from the cold  water of the Gulf of Mexico.

Another well known location at Florida's East Coast is a place near Blue  Heron Bridge to Singer Island where warm water of the power plant creates a favorite spot for manatees in winters (see picture). This place  has been a refuge for manatees since the 1940s. The inlet where the water that cools the plant is released into the Intracoastal Waterway  keeps the water near the plant at about  90°F.  The presence of dozens of manatees are a spectacle that for decades drew visitors to Florida Power & Light’s Riviera Beach power plant.

Today was the opening of the new  ‪#‎ManateeLagoon located across the Blue Heron Bridge from Singer Island. The new 16,000-square-foot, $4.8 million facility at 6000 N. Flagler Drive overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway. It includes exhibits, a second-story meeting space, a boardwalk, a manatee cam, a pavilion, a café and a gift shop.