In the spring of 2011, we spotted Florida Manatees on both the Silver and Ocklawaha Rivers. This was the first time in several decades that the Manatees had made it into these bodies of water. As we are approaching the months in which they were sighted last year, we hope to see them back again.
Rodman Dam was constructed in 1968 as part of the Cross Florida Barge Canal. When the Dam and Buckman Lock became operational, the normal migration patterns of the Mantees that used the Ocklawaha River were interrupted.
The manatees move in the winter months to warmer waters such as those found around Silver Springs and other natural springs. Somehow the Manatees found their way here last year, and enjoyed the constant water temperature around the many springs of the Silver River. The extremely cold winter of 2011 that we experienced may have motivated their appearance.
The survival of the Florida Manatee is one of the reasons that environmentalists hope to see the removal of Rodman Dam and Buckman Lock. What to do with Rodman Dam has always been a controversial issue, as the pros and cons involved affect many interests, human and natural.
In the interest of the Manatee, their existence has been found as far back as 8500 B.C.. Paleo-Indians, the first inhabitants of Florida, hunted the Manatee. The English declared Florida a Manatee Sanctuary in the 1700’s, and Florida enacted the first protection laws in 1893.
Those of us who spend time on the Silver and Ocklawaha Rivers are anxious to see if the Manatees return this year. Please take the time to post a comment by clicking on the link below if any 2012 sightings occur.
Low water levels on the Rivers continue to be a concern, as well as the high winds the area has received recently. Keep an eye out for downed trees and limbs as you navigate both the Silver amd Ocklawaha.
Until next time…see you on the Rivers!