ORANGE CITY, Fla. (WFLA) — A large group of mating manatees was spotted in Blue Springs State Park in Florida last weekend.
A video released by the Save the Manatee Club shows dozens of manatees gathered in the cool spring water. In a release, the organization said researchers counted over 30 manatees in the area.
Female manatees in heat are pursued by several males, according to the club, and can mate with one or more in the mating herd. A female manatee remains in heat for about three weeks.
The organization is reminding onlookers that they should steer clear of the herd. Nature lovers may be worried the animals are hurt or in distress, but the commotion is normal, according to the club.
The organization asks anyone who might encounter a manatee mating herd to do the following:
- Do not approach or touch any of the manatees.
- Watch from a respectful distance.
- Know that it is illegal to interfere with the mating herd because it is considered manatee harassment.
- If you witness others touching or otherwise disturbing the mating herd, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or your local wildlife agency or stranding network.
“The presence of this manatee mating herd only underscores the critical need for protected areas like Blue Spring State Park, which provide necessary space for manatees to rest and engage in natural behaviors, such as mating, without human interference,” said Patrick Rose, aquatic biologist and executive director of Save the Manatee Club. “Outside of these sanctuaries, it is imperative that members of the public understand that it is important to observe manatees only from a respectful distance.”