The last major spring of Suwannee River is Manatee Spring. This is a powerful 1st magnitude spring, a gorgeous natural landmark.
Map of the site
If you see this after your page is loaded completely, leafletJS files are missing.
The spring has formed in Ocala Group Limestone, Eocene. For most of the time, its beautiful spring pool is filled with clear, blue-green water that is discharged from the spring vent in incredible amounts.
The spring pool is 18 by 23 m large and up to 8 m deep. It is located in the forest near the Suwannee River and the spring water flows about 380 m through tidal hardwood forest towards the river. The spring run is about 20 – 40 m wide and, on average, 0.9 m deep.
The mean discharge of Manatee Spring from January 2001 to September 2023 has been 4,262 l/s, thus it is a convincing 1st magnitude spring.
This spring serves as a refuge for manatees, especially during the winter, when the constant spring water temperature (22.1 °C) is higher than the water temperature in the river.
The area around the spring pool has been modified by the infrastructure for visitors – walkways and stairs. This is one of the most frequently visited springs in Florida.
Manatee Spring is one of 30 Outstanding Florida Springs – especially interesting and beautiful springs with a specific set of rules for their protection.
Unfortunately, even if the spring water is clear, the pollution with nitrates from the agricultural runoff gradually increases in its water. This promotes the growth of filamentous algae in the spring pool and spring run.
Manatee Springs Cave System
The spring vent marks the start (or, rather, the end) of the Manatee Springs Cave System, a 7,125 m long and up to 29 m deep cave. This cave is a favourite destination for cave divers who, most often, enter the cave through another sinkhole nearby – Catfish Hotel.
Previously, a dive from Catfish Hotel towards Manatee Spring was popular. Now it is too dangerous due to the occasional extreme force of the current in conjunction with the collapse of the cave ceiling that has partly blocked the passage. This situation has led to the death of some cave divers.
When the nearby Suwannee River is flooded, the water flow can be reversed and the river water then enters inside the Manatee Springs Cave System. This natural process is important for the cave dwellers, such as Hobb’s cave amphipod, the pallid cave crayfish, and the swimming little cave isopod, because the floodwater brings new food for them.
Near the spring, there was a prehistoric human settlement by the Weedon Island Culture (1st millennium AD), but people used the spring for hunting long before this.
The spring was named by the explorer William Bartram (1739-1823) – the first researcher of Florida forests. He reached it in 1774 and was astonished by the unusual beauty of its blue-green water. He saw the carcass of a dead manatee at the shore of the spring and hence the spring got its name.
In 1949, Florida State acquired the land and in 1954, Manatee Springs State Park became the very first of the major Florida springs to be managed by the Florida Park Service (3.).
In 1971, the spring was designated a registered National Natural Landmark.
- Manatee Spring NR Chiefland Fla – 02323566, USGS. Accessed on August 27, 2023.
- Manatee Springs. Suwannee River Water Management District, Water Data Portal. Last accessed on 9th September 2023.
- Summary of Existing Data –
Manatee Springs (Levy Co.) (PDF file). Last accessed on 24th September 2023.
Manatee Spring is included in the following article:
Powerful natural freshwater springs belong to the most fascinating monuments of nature. Even more exciting is the diversity of unusual springs – mineral springs, hot springs, submarine springs as well as the unusual black smokers. Especially beautiful are such natural rarities as travertine, silica, or salt terraces created by warm and hot springs and, especially, geysers.
The United States of America is one of the largest countries in the world and offers a wide array of diverse attractions: many are unsurpassed in the world. Highlights of the United States are cliffs, canyons, and rock formations, several impressive downtowns of cities with numerous skyscrapers as well as a rich array of geothermal features, and the giant forest of California.
Florida is the tropical paradise of the mainland United States. Over the last century, it has experienced fabulous changes, turning from a forgotten, swampy badland into a densely populated and rich land. Highlights of Florida include the architecture of the late 19th and 20th centuries as well as its giant springs and caves.
Are You Ready for a Breathtaking Experience Through the Heart of Florida, Exploring Its Most Famous Wonders and Attractions?
If you want a guide that will help you find the most beautiful spots in this gorgeous state, then keep reading because this is the book you were looking for!
FLORIDA SPRINGS FROM TOP TO BOTTOM: Your Guide to the Best of Florida’s Springs, Parks and Recreations
The author started gathering information for this unique guidebook of Florida Springs over 40 years ago. In 1973 Robert F. Burgess began diving and photographing the underwater caves associated with Florida’s labyrinthine freshwater springs long before scuba divers had such things as depth gauges, personal flotation devices, or cave divers training programs. He attributes his survival in what has been called “the world’s most dangerous sport” to the fact that he always stayed within sight of the way out of these underwater sites.