Silver Manatees Inspire, SLR/IRL

Silver Springs, photo Dr Robert Knight

With the mid-term election behind us, it’s time to get to work, and along the Indian River Lagoon and St Lucie River that means it’s time to get reconnected to Nature during the cool season before the Algae Monster arrives again.

Last week, as the keynote speaker for the Florida Springs Restoration Summit in Ocala, I had an amazing back to nature experience.  On a Silver River Guided Paddle Adventure with Dr Robert  Knight leading the way, five manatees swam underneath my kayak!

Five manatees!

They looked so beautiful, so graceful, so confident, and so powerful!

I could see them perfectly through the clear water of Silver Springs. During the summit, I learned that only recently the spring’s water magnitude had increased to historic levels ~after aquifer recharge of a very rainy 2017, thanks to Hurricane Irma.

Florida springs suffer from lack of water because the Water Management Districts, at the direction of their leaders, over-permit water extraction for more agriculture and development. Also, nutrient pollution haunts the spring-shed due to nitrate leaching of old septic tanks. When flow is low and nitrate high, benthic algae grows on the once white sand bottom of the springs. Almost all Florida springs deal with this issue.

Manatees, Silver River, Dr Robert Knight

But on this recent day, the day of my tour,  Silver Springs was glistening, and its bottom bursting with eel grass. The manatees munched at their leisure, mothers and calves reflecting a bluish hue underneath the clear, streaming water.

As the manatees swam under my little boat, I felt a joy unknown since childhood. “An ancient herd of elephants just swam under my kayak!” I thought, laughing out loud.

And in this moment of pure inspiration, I recalled an image from home of a starving manatee struggling to eat weeds and grasses along the Intercostal. Of course after years of harsh discharges from Lake Okeechobee and area canals, the sea grass forests are dead.

Beyond heartbreaking…

I brought my mind back to this present gift before me. And told the Silver manatees I would  return home inspired to fight for all, and that were were indeed, one Florida water family.

Image pulled off my iPhone, #Toxic18 site 10-28-18, Rita Hendricks Salazar



Silver Springs:

Springs Institute:

2018 Springs Restoration Summit:

Dr Knight Bio:

Silver Springs Study Delayed, Gainesville Sun, Dr Robert Knight,:

7 thoughts on “Silver Manatees Inspire, SLR/IRL

  1. When I lived in Orlando 30 years ago it was like the earth would tremble from the millions cars starting there engines just before sun-up. Most of the jets takeing off from OIA carry 500 people. Can you imagine how much fuel they burn gaining altitude for the trip north. Cars and plans give off carbon dioxide and when carbon dioxide comes in contact with water it makes carbonic acid. I believe this is the problem the springs are haveing not that last few holdouts who refuse to hook up to sewer. Love your blog.–beutifull manitees.

  2. This moved me deeply. I was raised in central Florida and spent thousands of hours visiting the beautiful springs all over the area . I really wanted to be a performing swimmer at Cypress Gardens but my parents objected. Bless you for all you do for us and our water and thank you for a big dose of magic.

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Oh thank you Marjie. I am certain you would have been the most beautiful and talented of performing swimmers at Cypress Gardens! Your life has moved and blessed so many people with how it did turn out. Thank you for sharing. Those clear waters are such an inspiration.

  3. This morning I sat and watched a moma manatee and its 3 foot baby. The baby carefully watched what its moma fead on and mimiced everymove. This year with a endless food supply of sea grass has turned my area into a very inportant nusury.

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