I have now officially swam with green turtles in Hawaii and now a manatee in Florida.
I stopped, and camped at Manatee Springs, a first magnitude springs, that flows into the Suwannee River. The manatees use the warmer of the natural springs for calving and shelter in the winter.
Canoe and kayak rentals are available to explore the short run of the springs as well as the Suwannee River.
Manatee Springs is a beautiful park, and the hike on the Nature Coast Trail is well worth the effort. The Springs were quite busy on Sunday, when I arrived, but very quiet on Monday. I met no one while hiking the trail, although I did run into a pack of piglets. The mini pigs had climbed under a fence between the park trail and some private land. Unintentionally, I herded the piglets down the trail a ways, which had the sow all round up in bacon. Eventually, the trail feared off, and the little herd of pigs high tailed it back to the sow. It’s amazing how loud a dozen scrambling piglets can be.
As usual, there was plenty of wildlife to keep it interesting. In the evening, my campsite was absolutely full of deer, and of course, the ever present black vultures hung around by day. There was one water moccasin sighting. I don’t know my snakes, but a local identified it as a water moccasin. Eerily graceful, as it moved across the water and onto a partially submerged log to sun.
A very interesting park. I would guess that the manatee viewing would increase during the winter months. I think April is just getting past the peak viewing times, as the slow moving mammals need to be in the warmer waters of the spring much less.