Manatees near St. Marks?

OK, so I went to the HuManatee Festival at St. Marks, FL yesterday and got all sorts of info about when the manatees arrive (summer) and where the best places are to see them (Wakulla River). But then I thought I’d ask the question here: anybody paddle the Wakulla River in the summer, and if so, have you ever seen manatees there?

I live over near Pensacola, and about once every couple of years, make a snorkelling trip to Crystal River in January because of the manatee population there during the winter. I never knew the big ol’ sweeties could be seen so close to home. If indeed they can.

Also, all the maps say put in at the bridge near the intersection of 98 and 363, but it seems to me it would be nice to put in at the foot of 363, near San Marcos de Apalache State Park, paddle up to 365, then turn around and paddle back with the current. How long would that take, assuming a nice leisurely pace of, say, 3-4 mph?

I saw eight on the Wakulla yesterday.

– Last Updated: Apr-10-05 6:02 PM EST –

Every time I have been on the Wakulla, I have seen manatees. Go to my site and see the pictures:

I always put in at 98 and paddle up to the fence, for an eight mile roundtrip.

How was the festival?

I lived in St. Marks the first 2 years
of my life. Would it be worth the all day drive to see it and paddle there? I don’t even have goods pictures of the place.

I haven’t paddled the Wakulla yet, but from what I could see on Saturday, it’s a beautiful clear river, though I don’t know anything about the upper reaches. It’s spring-fed, so I’m assuming that’s what keeps it clear. Plenty of bird-watching opportunities in that area, too. I’m heading back there with my boat next chance I get–but then, for me, it’s only about a 2 1/2-3 hour drive.

The festival was not large, but very pleasant–music, festival food, and lots of friendly folks to talk to about paddling in the area.

I was sorry I hadn’t brought my boat, but I had my dog with me and he had a pretty good time socializing and swimming. I’ve heard there are plenty of gators in that river, but figured that any gator in his right mind would steer clear of all that power boat traffic, so I let Coke swim as much as he wanted to (chocolate lab–you can’t keep 'em out of the water anyway).

Look forward to paddling that river!

Hmmm, maybe?
The river is a nice paddle, it’s a no wake zone. Wakulla Springs park is interesting and it is right on the gulf.

Canoe and Kayaks did a write up of the river in this years places and destinations.