Today we visited Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. This 210 acre park is home to native Florida wildlife and is one of the only places where you can see an West Indian Manatee 365 days a year (the park is open year round). The State Park is a rehabilitation center for injured and orphaned West Indian manatees, which reside there until they are able to be returned to the wild.
Another highlight is the educational programs that are offered throughout the day (at no additional charge). Several enthusiastic docents abound and they are a homeschoolers dream as they offer up interesting facts and tips for enjoying the park and the programs.
A few of the exhibits we enjoyed viewing included the hippopotamus, Whooping cranes, Florida panther, Woodstorks, and Raptors.
There is also a small children’s educational center that had some interesting skeletons and skulls. One of the interesting facts we learned about manatees is that their teeth are in only in the back of their mouth and they have only molars. This gentle gray giant also has no natural enemies and even sharks leave it alone! Despite all of that, it is expected manatees will go into extinction within the next 10-15 years! If you cannot make a trip you can view the Manatee Web Cam or Cam Gallery. It is a beautiful park and I’m so glad we were able to visit.
Field Trip Tips
Allow 3.5-4 hours at the park. It goes fast!
When you watch the manatee program try to sit in the front row in the center with small children for the best view. When the docent enters the water to feed the manatees he/she is will not have a microphone, so the further away you sit, the less likely you will hear what he/she has to say.
Today was a wonderful day that could have only been made slightly better with warmer weather. Sadly, we weren’t able to take the boat over to the park as the water was too low during our visit. We did take a tram that took us through a nice trail on the way to the West Entrance, but obviously we would have preferred taking the pontoon boat along Pepper Creek.
Oh well, as Bear likes to say on this trip, “Maybe next time we come here.”
When I was in college I did a summer internship at Homosassa Springs. That was a long time ago though! 🙂 It is fun to see pictures of it again. The manatees are probably the sweetest creatures on earth. Glad your children enjoyed them too!