Discover Extraordinary Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs State Park!
A warm greetings to you! And Happy New Year! I can’t think of a better way to start out a new 2024 blog then to talk about the abundance of manatees making their winter home at Homosassa Springs State Park.
Manatees are warm-blooded and need water temperatures of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit to survive. So as the Gulf of Mexico’s waters drop, this event brings them in to Florida’s natural springs which have a year-round water temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Homosassa “is a first magnitude spring group located in the Southwest Florida Water Management District, within Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs State Park.”
“The Homosassa Spring Group is designated as an Outstanding Florida Spring and consists of a cluster of over 30 springs which collectively discharge to form the 8-mile-long Homosassa River. Collectively, this group discharges 65 million gallons of water daily, qualifying this group as a first-magnitude spring and one of the largest springs in Florida. The water boiling out of the 40-foot basin arrives here from the Homosassa springshed that covers 270 square miles across Citrus and Hernando counties. The above-ground activities by people in the springshed directly impact, either positively or negatively, the quality and quantity of water exiting the springs. These springs form the head of the Homosassa River, which calmly flows west for 8 miles before reaching the Gulf of Mexico.”
“Homosassa Spring vents 1, 2, and 3 stand out as the crown jewels of the cluster. Differences in the salinity and water quality of vent flows allow both fresh and saltwater fish to exist in the headwaters. In the winter, these diverse fish live alongside large numbers of manatees who swim upstream for the warmer spring water. Homosassa State Park hosts some of the most diverse and abundant wildlife in Florida, both in the water and on the land. It is no wonder that Native Floridians used the site as a vibrant fishing grounds for thousands of years. Later, Homosassa Springs served as a privately owned tourist attraction with a menagerie of exotic animals until it ultimately became a state park. Today the still-beautiful spring faces challenges of water quality and quantity as its springshed drains a 270 square mile region containing many farms and citrus plantations.”
“One of the unique features of the Homosassa headspring is that the main vent flows from three points underground with each vent having different salt content and water quality. The three sources blend together in the basin before exiting down the spring run and into the Homosassa River. Given this, the Homosassa Spring is filled with a variety of saltwater and freshwater fish species, but is perhaps best known for its historic value as a warm water haven for wintering West Indian manatees.”
Below is information for your planned visit to Homosassa Springs …
Homosassa Springs State Park
4150 S. Suncoast Blvd.
Homosassa, Florida 34446
Park Hours: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Ticket counters close at 4:45 p.m.
Fees: Adults (age 13+), $13; children ages 6-12, $5; children 5 and under admitted free. You can purchase tickets at the Visitor Center. You can also grab your copy of our award-winning Kobee Manatee® Educational books!
Children learn all about manatees with: Kobee Manatee® Heading Home to Florida, with Dr. Katie Tripp from Jimmy Buffett’s Save the Manatee Club!
Children learn all about weather with: Kobee Manatee® A Wild Weather Adventure, with Rob Marciano | ABC News Senior Meteorologist! Rob is seen on ABC World News Tonight
Children learn all about reef fish with: Kobee Manatee® Shipwreck Sea Friends, with Fabien Cousteau, oldest grandson of legendary ocean pioneer Jacques Cousteau!
Children learn soft facts about plastic pollution and climate change in: Kobee Manatee® Climate Change and The Great Blue Hole Hazard, with popular NOAA Scientist Dr. Tracy Fanara. Tracy is a visiting expert on The Weather Channel, CNN, and FOX Weather.
HAVE AN AWESOME 2024!!!
If you are in Florida and you see a sick or injured manatee, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at: 1-888-404-FWCC. They are the folks who are responsible for rescuing us in Florida.
Here’s the Save the Manatee Club link to learn more about manatees …
Here’s a cool link for you to learn more about how we’re rescued and brought into rehabilitation …
~ Robert Scott Thayer