ORANGE CITY, Fla. - LIST: Closures, shelters ahead of winter weather warning in Jacksonville area
Snowbirds aren't the only ones flocking to central Florida as things get colder up north. More than 300 manatees have made their way to Blue Spring State Park. WFTV-TV Orlando took a trip to the park to see what's drawing the sea cows there.
The manatees come here to escape the colder water and as the temperatures drop, up to 400 manatees can be seen on any given day, said park officials.
With cameras and phone in hand, people crowded around the guardrail and tried to snap a quick photo or selfie with the manatees at Blue Spring. Park officials counted 307 in the water on Monday.
“My whole life, I've lived here and I've never seen this many before and they are so up close today. It's really cool,” said visitor Jessica Cuccolo.
The park has seen a surge in the animals in recent weeks. Park officials attribute that to the colder weather moving in.
“Manatees can't suffer cold water for long periods of time so once the water temperature drops below 68 degrees then they will search for warmer waters,” said Florida Park Services specialist Darrell Thomas.
The spring stays at 72 degrees all year long, making it an attractive spot for the manatees to go and warm up, and for visitors to get a close-up glimpse of these gentle giants.
“They're cute. I mean, they are just precious out there,” said visitor Jessica Cuccolo.
Park officials say the peak time to see the manatees is between November and mid-March when we have cooler temperatures. Once things warm up they say the manatees return to the open water.
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