Visiting Homosassa Spring State Park - Manatee Haven

Homosassa Springs State Park

Homosassa Springs State Park is a showcase for native wildlife of Florida.
The 210 acre park is located around this natural spring, which is the headwater of the Homosassa River that has its mouth out in the Gulf of Mexico. The temperature here stays at 72 degrees F all year-round, which attracts a great diversity of wildlife both in and out of the water. A section of the natural spring is closed off for the rehabilitation of West Indian Manatees.
Although it is most famous for its rehabilitation program on West Indian manatees, the park also holds most of the native wildlife found in the state of Florida including Florida Black Bear, Bobcat and even the highly threatened Red Wolf. The park also includes a couple of extra surprises you would not normally see in Florida…

The park also has about 350 volunteers that help in the operation, maintenance and improvement of the park.

Crew involvement

We visited Homosassa springs to shine light on the threatened West Indian Manatees that live in springs around Florida. The manatees are often injured from boat traffic, fishing lines and crab lines and today only an estimated 3500 individuals remain in the wild.
We were allowed to send Jonas down into the water with the 6 manatees that the park now look after. And if you think that these animals are shy, think again. Jonas even had difficulties getting the video he tried to get because these curious animals kept wanting to play. And when you have an animal of around 3500 pounds playing with you, there isn’t much else you can do. Just as an important reminder though, if you see manatees in the wild, do not chase them to get closer. If they feel like it, they will approach you. It is also against the law to touch them. They are wild animals that presently are very threatened.

jonas-manatee

Read more about the manatees here

https://untamedscience.com/biodiversity/animals/chordates/mammals/manatees-and-dugongs/manatees/trichechus/west-indian-manatee

More History

The park area actually used to be an exotic animal park with animals from all over the world, such as black spider monkeys, lions and bears. In 1989, the Florida State Park Service purchased the park from the county. Today all the exotic animals have been removed, except from one: Lu the Hippo, who was allowed to stay after locals put up a fight when Lu was supposed to be shipped out. Lu now holds an honorary state citizenship, still living in Homosassa park.

Daily Educational Programs

Wildlife Encounters: 10:30am & 2:30pm
Manatee Programs: 11:30am & 3:30pm
Alligator/Hippopotamus Program at 12:30pm

Costs

Adults (age 13 and over) – $9
Children (age 3 – 12) – $5
Children under 3 years – no charge

Visiting information

Park is open 7 days a week between 9:00am until 5:30pm
The park can be entered from two locations. Through the main entrance along Highway 19 in Homosassa you can go by boat or tram through beautiful forest scenery to the Wildlife Park where you can see many of the interesting Florida birds as well as a lot of alligators and fresh water turtles.

The park is located at 4150 S. Suncoast Blvd. (US 19 & 98) in Homosassa Springs, Florida

Written by Rob Nelson

Rob is an ecologist from the University of Hawaii. He is the co-creator and director of Untamed Science. His goal is to create videos and content that are entertaining, accurate, and educational. When he's not making science content, he races whitewater kayaks and works on Stone Age Man.

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