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Thursday, July 21, 2011

See The “Mermaids” at Homosassa Springs

A visitor attraction since the 1940’s, Homosassa Springs is a natural wonder and home to manatees and fish alike.  In the springs, you can see manatees, Mangrove Snapper, Sheepshead, Crevalle Jacks, and Redfish.  At the springs, visitors can venture into an underwater observation area that will give them a up close view of the manatees and fish that call the springs home.
A couple hundred years ago, when sailors and explorers were mapping and exploring the Florida Peninsula, folk lore holds that they often mistook the large mammals as mermaids.  The rum from their stops at Tortuga and other islands must have been strong, because I do not see a resemblance.  Either way, the manatees are wonderful creatures to watch and as one of the state of Florida’s symbols and an animal that has been at the brink of extinction, they are a great sight to see.

The park is also home to many other Florida natives such as Alligators, Turtles, Snakes, Bobcats, Panthers, Black Bear, and many native birds.  Each of these native animals is in a fenced exhibit that the family can walk up to and read about.  Another exhibit in the park is that of “Lou” or “Lucifer” the Hippopotamus.  Lou is the only “naturalized” hippo; he was given resident status by Gov. Chiles after the park could not find a home for him when they made the park home for native species.

This park has gift shops, food vending, great park rangers, and entrance includes either a tram ride or a boat ride.  With small entrance fees and free admission for children 6 and under, the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is an excellent stop for families vacationing in the state of Florida.

The park can be reached at (352) 628-5343 and is located at 4150 S. Suncoast Boulevard
Homosassa, Florida 34446.  Homosassa is just a short drive from the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, so for any vacation to Busch Gardens, Seaworld, Ybor City, or to get on a cruise ship in the Port ofTampa, make this a fun stop to begin or end your trip.