As you can see, I did get out in the yak on Christmas Eve. I traveled to Blue Springs State Park, winter home of manatees in the St Johns River. I was curious as to how crowded it would be- both manatee and people wise. The human crowd was moderate. I arrived at the parking lot near the River. It was almost full, but I snagged the space closest to the water, and was in just before 10:30. I saw about six manatees at the mouth of Blue Springs Run. The pictures above are from later in the day. After watching manatees for a time, I headed south, towards the first canal.
On December 8, I paddled the "Hontoon Island Loop". North on the St Johns, around Hontoon Island State Park, south on the Hontoon Dead River, to Snake Creek, back to the St Johns. Today, feeling a bit under the weather, and having to work in the evening, I did a shorter paddle. St Johns, upstream (south) towards the northernmost of 3 19th century logging canals, north on Snake Creek to the Hontoon Dead River, south on the HDR to the canal, to the St Johns and Blue Spring. As I entered Snake Creek, I heard rustling on the bank. I paused to see what was the cause. Turkeys.
I last saw turkeys Thanksgiving Day, on the Wekiva River. Now I see them on Christmas Eve.
Snake Creek is shallow, often weed choked. At times, even a kayak can't navigate it. This trip there was one area of floating vegetation, but it was not thick and I easily pushed thorough. So, I was very surprised to see four people in a speed boat slowly coming towards me. They must have made it all the way, as I did not see the again. I saw one other boat, two guys in a canoe with a motor. They turned around. Near the confluence with the Hontoon Dead River, there are a few places the swamp like shoreline changes, moss covered live oaks and palm offer inviting lunch spots. Signs read " No Trespassing". This is the back side of Hontoon Island State Park, I am an annual Florida State Parks pass holder, so I was not a trespasser.
Back in the yak, to the HDR, and then the canal. The canals, after 100+ years are completely wild.
During spring and summer, the canal and both banks are full of alligators. I saw none all day today.
But as you already know, I did see manatees. And not just in the Spring Run. Out of the narrow part of the canal, paddling back towards the places where Snake Creek joins the channel, I paddled to the south bank, a place where I have seem manatees before. I looked around, saw nothing, until sediment rose from the bottom. A lot of sediment. Either an alligator, or more likely, manatee. Manatee it was. It moved to the middle of the channel. where I pointed it out to two oncoming yakers.
I then entered the main channel of the St Johns, and saw more manatees in the River. The manatees use the warm waters of the Spring at night, but during the day, forage the River. That is why the area outside Blue Spring Run is an Idle Speed Zone. Some bozos apparently can't read. I slowed down one pontoon boat, by shouting, "Slow down manatee killers".
I went to the Spring Run, got pushed around my the manatee in the first pics, saw these smoochers. I then went a nearby island is search of more manatees , or maybe a gator. No alligators, but manatees in the River, and one just of the island- I almost ran it over. Back to the Park, I put the yak on the car, then walked the boardwalk to the springhead. I had not been to the springhead by land in a while. The boardwalk is wider, with a covered area with interpretive signs at the spring head. Saw a few more manatee in the Run, and some big tarpon- or a least I thought they were big, looked about 3 feet long.