Daniel had booked a hotel for us right on the water in Cocoa Beach near Cape Canaveral. It wasn't until we were there that I realized that Cocoa Beach was the setting for the 1960s TV comedyI Dream of Jeannie (Bezaubernde Jeannie in German). Fun!
After a gorgeous sunrise that Daniel caught on camera while I was still getting ready (ok, so I was sleeping in a little...),
and a most excellent breakfast at Simply Delicious Cafe & Bakery (we especially loved their pistachio muffins!!),
we went looking for manatees. After I mentioned to Daniel that it was too bad that the manatees would have gone in search for warmer waters and would not be around this time of year, Daniel did some research and found that there is a warm spring in Blue Spring State Park where manatees come during the winter.
So, we drove up there with high hopes and saw much more than expected!
Apparently the warm waters attract not only manatees, but also vast numbers of fish, which were easily visible because of the very clear spring water.
And then we spied the first couple of manatees right by a beautiful great blue heron.
And some more by this interesting looking anhinga.
And then we saw many of them just basking in the warm waters!
They looked so docile and peaceful and were a joy to watch.
They even got along quite well with a lone alligator in their midst.
A view up the beautiful spring waters feeding into the St. Johns River.
And here is where the water bubbles up from below. Do you see all the fish around the spring? We read that the spring flows at about an average rate of 100 million gallons of water per day with a steady temperature of 72 degrees F (22 degrees C), making it an ideal winter refuge for the manatees who need warm waters for survival.
We are planning to come back after March 1 when you can actually swim and snorkel in designated (meaning alligator-free) areas around the spring.