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Blue Spring State Park: Boardwalk Trail Professional Review and Guide
"The West Indian manatee is believed to be the basis of the mermaid legend because of its humanlike face and broad beaverlike tail. Manatees, which may weigh as much as a ton, eat up to a hundred pounds of vegetation every day. They once ranged from North Carolina to Texas, but destruction of their habitat through development and pollution has drastically reduced their population. Only Florida has a resident population of manatees believed to number somewhere around 3,300 animals, which qualifies them for the endangered list. The manatee, once a four-footed land creature, is a close relative of the elephant. A manatee’s front flippers still have vestiges of what would have been nails. Manatees have no natural enemies, although human progress has certainly endangered their chances for survival. The boardwalk at Blue Spring State Park offers a remarkable look at as many as 140 (it keeps increasing!) of the animals in the clear spring water when they flee the neighboring St. Johns River for the warmer 72-degree waters of the spring run each winter."
--M. Timothy O'Keefe, Hiking Central Florida (Falcon Guides).
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