Friends of Blue Spring State Park Newsletter
Meet our Treasurer: Sally Andrews is a native Floridian, and has been around manatees most of her life. She moved to Tennessee, where she met her husband and raised their son, but the family moved back to Florida to be closer to family in 2013.
Sally has been a bookkeeper for over forty years, working with non-profit sports leagues including baseball, football, and basketball, and the local auxiliary fire department.
In 2017 Sally got involved with Blue Spring State Park after attending a seminar on how to spot manatees in their natural habitat. Sally is now a permanent part of the Manatee Observer Program at Blue Spring State Park. With all the bookkeeping skills that Sally brings to the table, the Friends of Blue Spring State Park could not have elected a better Treasurer.
Wednesday Night Bingo at Riverwalk Pizzeria and Brew Pub in Orange City is still very popular. Some of the prizes we have given away include: gift certificates, passes for entry into any state park, key chains, park pins, and everyone’s favorite, a handmade stuffed and cuddly manatee. Bingo starts at 6:30 pm and continues until four games are completed. There is nothing like a family night out with good food and a friendly game of bingo! We are always looking for volunteers to help out on bingo nights. We need volunteers to help with calling and selling bingo cards to patrons. If you’d like to help, please email our bingo team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Jay Walk: takes place on the third Friday of the month, so check out the weblink and put August 19 and September 16 on your calendar if you love birds. These are informative walks and great opportunities to snap a few shots of the park’s cheeky scrub jays for your scrapbook.
Our first Brick Campaign has ended with sales of 77 bricks. Unfortunately, there has been a delivery delay of several weeks from the manufacturer. Lightning struck the facility and some repairs to the machine that produces the bricks are currently being made. We hope to install the bricks in September and will keep everyone informed of the brick status and our next campaign through our newsletter, website, and on Facebook.
Our annual Members River Cruise is being planned for this fall. Keep your eye on the website or Facebook for further details and the date!
Gopher Tortoise Burrow: At the next big park function, when all the display booths are out, look for the park’s Gopher Tortoise Burrow. This is an educational display designed for children to see how a gopher tortoise lives. As kids crawl through the display they will come across replicas of the tortoise’s roommates (bugs, snakes, and other creepy crawlies). The burrow has been well received by the children that have gone through the burrow and many have even visited second and third times!
Species of the Month
Bluefin killifish (Lucania goodei)
These tiny fish are one of the most colorful fish you will see in the spring run, but since they are only about an inch and a half long, you have to look closely to find them. If you are snorkeling along the west side of the spring run, you may see these feisty little fish flaring their bright blue fins at each other and chasing each other around. Why are they doing that? It is both a territorial and courtship display. Another interesting feature of killifish are their upturned mouths (you can also see this in mosquitofish and sailfin mollies). This allows them to take advantage of the more highly oxygenated water at the air-water interface to supplement the very low oxygen levels in the rest of the spring run. The next time you go snorkeling, look for some of our small fish species! In this video you will see the male bluefin killifish flaring their fins, the females (no blue fins), and then up near the water’s surface you will see a lot of mosquitofish and a sailfin molly.
Bluefin Killifish Male bluefin killifish flaring their fins
Tips to Help Protect Your Favorite Park
Many visitors have expressed how wonderful Blue Spring State Park is to visit. Unfortunately, parks that are very popular sometimes get loved to death, so here are a few tips to help make your visit safe, enjoyable, and help maintain the natural beauty of the park for all visitors.
Tips to prevent erosion:
- Areas along the bank have just been restored and are currently very sensitive. Any human disturbance can be detrimental.
- Remember to not climb up the banks, especially at the spring head (boil).
- If you see people climbing up the banks, trampling or pulling out vegetation or jumping from the banks, provide a friendly reminder that this is against park rules.
- If you need to sit down and rest, sit on the exposed rocks around the spring head instead of the banks.
Tips to keep our park clean:
If you see any bits of garbage along the sides of the spring run, on the bottom of the spring or anywhere on land, please pick them up. Also, please remember that food and beverages are prohibited in and around the swimming areas. These areas include the swimming platforms, boardwalk leading to spring, and in the swimming area itself. Not only is it good to keep our spring clean, but it will also help curious manatees who can get entangled in garbage or ingest it, and can become very sick or even die.
Tips when encountering a manatee while in or on the water:
In collaboration with Save the Manatee Club, Volusia County, and Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, the park has volunteer observers who keep an eye on the manatees visiting the spring during the summer months. Volunteers can provide lots of information, answer questions, and make sure manatees are not harassed by visitors.
- Remember to give manatees space and do not approach, follow, chase or touch them (learn more from the video link).
- If you’re in a kayak, try to stay 2 kayak-lengths away from the manatee (learn more from the video link).
- Pay special attention to mothers and calves. Calves depend on their mom for up to 2 years and if they get separated the calf can not survive on its own. Give them extra space.
- Some manatees are outfitted with satellite tracking devices (pictured below). These manatees have been rehabilitated and are just getting used to being in the natural environment. Do not touch them or encourage their “friendly” behavior. The tracking devices contain several weak links, so if the tag gets caught on something, it will break off.
- If a manatee approaches you, take your paddle or hands out of the water and do not encourage the manatee’s approach. Manatees who get habituated to people can lose their natural fear and are more prone to get hit by boats.
A manatee with a satellite tracking device. Photos © Save the Manatee Club
Remember that you are a part of what keeps Blue Spring State Park a wonderful place to visit.