Manatees on the move

Cold air is more than an inconvenience in Florida —

It’s also a crop killer and a major culprit in manatee mortality. (see article)

And it’s not just how cold it gets:

How long it stays cold can be just as decisive.

Manatees start to succumb to “cold stress syndrome” – setting of a physiological chain reaction of decline – when waters are cooled to 68º F.

That has the herds heading into their old “warm water” haunts.

Top on that list are Florida’s springs.

The same springs that are refreshingly “cool” during the summer turn “warm” during the winter – not by magic – but because the ground water that feeds them is thermally constant.

Manatees also congregate around the heated waters of power plants and – down here in the Ten Thousand Islands – as far inland up the “groundwater warmed” canals they can go.

One such spot is located in the Faka Union Canal, just north of the Tamiami Trail, as shown in the aerial photograph.

Where do the manatees hide in your area?

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