After mooring the boat we walked the popular boardwalk which serves as a manatee observation deck. The run to the spring was crowded with a variety of fish – too bad fishing isn’t permitted in the Blue Spring Run.
And despite the fact it was not a cold day, over a dozen manatee congregated in the warm water designated as a manatee refuge. For the first time I saw a manatee tagged with a tracking device. I can only imagine the embarrassment the belt-like contraption attached to the manatee’s tail must cause as the creature drags a small buoy as it swims.
The boardwalk leads to the largest spring on the St. John’s River and while it’s a popular destination for swimming, snorkeling, and diving, it’s closed to those activities from mid-November until March 15 during Manatee season. In addition, St. Johns River and Cruises and Tours offer two-hour narrated tours from the park and both canoes and kayaks are available for rent.
The park is so popular during the spring and summer that it frequently closes when it reaches capacity so better to plan to be there early.
On our way back to Hontoon Island, we encountered a paddle boat and a couple of eight-man sculling boats. The sculling boats actually moved down the river more quickly than our boat since our speed was limited by the no wake requirements designed to protect the manatee.
Blue Springs State Park…another of Florida’s treasures.