Florida Nonprofit Debuts Underwater Manatee Livestreams

Get ready because a fresh manatee livestream is now available! The charity organization Save the Manatee Club has launched new webcams at Silver Springs State Park, a scenic tropical location in Ocala, Florida, beloved by these charming creatures. One of the streams provides a view from above water, while the other delivers an interactive 180-degree underwater perspective that enables viewers to spot other marine life including fish and birds, as well as the occasional alligator. Patrick Rose, the organization’s executive director, explains that the updated webcam system is not just for entertainment but also a way to facilitate manatee research. “The webcams not only offer an enjoyable educational medium to the public but also assist us in studying these marine mammals,” Rose commented. “Our previous webcams have taught us a lot about manatee behavior.”

The new cameras are a joint venture between Save the Manatee Club,, and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. They aid the ongoing manatee photo-identification research project in the Silver Springs area, and draw attention to the springs as a vital natural habitat for these gentle beasts. The charity’s website mentions that the cameras are also used to keep tabs on unwell or injured manatees remotely. These webcams join existing manatee livestreams at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park and Blue Spring State Park. The latter houses resident manatees with distinct names like Paddy Doyle, Whiskers, Moo Shoo, and Phyllis, which viewers can identify using a scar identification chart. The livestreams are functional during daylight hours and play selected highlights while dark.Manatees frequent the Silver River in Ocala all year for feeding, socializing, traveling, and often to check out Silver Springs State Park. According to Save the Manatee Club, manatees seek shelter in the springs during the winter, enjoying its constant 72-degree temperature.
click to enlarge The past couple of years have seen unprecedented mortality rates among these beloved sea cows. Over a thousand died in 2021 due to a combination of starvation and other causes, prompting authorities to buy 55 tons of lettuce to feed the creatures by hand along Florida’s east coast. After a record number of deaths, federal wildlife officials are considering classifying them as endangered again.Increased deaths relate to the sharp decrease of their primary food source, seagrass, due to pollution and algae infestation in parts of the Indian River Lagoon, a favorite winter spot for manatee congregations.The positive news is, the fatal trend seems to be slowing. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reported roughly 520 manatee deaths in 2023, a significant drop from previous years. Manatee deaths were close to 800 in 2022, and crossed the 1,000 mark in 2021, the deadliest year to date for the marine giants. Rose reassured that the drop in deaths is due to the restoration of natural food sources for manatees in Brevard County, the epicenter of the mass death event.