Manatees at Wakulla State Park, Florida

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While attending the recent Natural Areas Conference in Tallahassee, Florida, naturalist William Hudson and I took a little side trip to Leon Sinks, and then to Wakulla State Park.  Wakulla Springs is the largest and deepest spring in the world, with a flow rate of something like 400,000 gallons per minute of water coming up from the aquifer and creating a river.

The landscape in the park is pristine.  It has never been logged or abused.  There is great wildlife and plant diversity.  If you have seen the old Tarzan movies, or The Creature from the Black Lagoon, you know what Wakulla looks and sounds like.

The only disappointment is the aquifer has become nutrient enriched due to land use and wastewater.  The nutrients cause the spring to be green and less clear.  The water used to be crystal clear and you could see in further, but even now it is a wonderful sight to behold. While we were there, we took a little boat ride ($8 per person) and explored the river a bit.

While on the boat, we observed numerous large and small alligators, including the ones pictured here.

Alligators at Wakulla Springs

Alligators at Wakulla Springs

There were also scores of  Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), Grebes, Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga), Ibis…well, you get the point.  It was just great. But the coolest thing of all was that there were manatees everywhere.  We got up close, but none of my pictures really captured the grace of the creatures.  I was able to capture some video from a deck above the spring itself.  Ignore the audio, which is just Bill and I having random conversation, but here are two video clips of the Sea Cows playing in the spring.

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