Manatees rebound © Paul Nicklen/Getty Images
We’re in Florida’s Blue Spring State Park for Manatee Awareness Month. As winter approaches, Blue Spring becomes a safe harbor for manatees, aka sea cows, looking for warmer inland waters. It’s also a protected area for the manatees, where they can eat and swim without fear of injury from boats. In fact, researchers identify many of the manatees in Blue Spring by the scars they bear from accidental boat collisions and motor blade cuts. Identifying individual manatees has been crucial to tracking the population rebound of this once endangered species. A 2016 census of manatees in Florida’s springs counted 6,250 of the large, surprisingly graceful beasts.