When it comes to staying warm on breezy days, we Floridians have it easy—simply throw on a light sweater and you’re good to go! But how do our resident wildlife stay warm when the temperature drops?
Just read on as we explore some of the ways Ponce Inlet’s animal friends stay warm and cozy during winter.
Like us humans, The Manatee Cruise’s namesake is a warm-blooded mammal, which means it can use energy to regulate its body’s temperature in a wide range of climate conditions—however, the manatee still needs a relatively warm environment to call “home,” because it can’t generate enough heat to make up for very cold weather. (Even though the manatee is large, and loveably called a “sea cow” or “gentle giant,” it doesn’t have enough body fat to protect from the chill.) This is why manatees tend to move south during the winter—for example, while manatees can be found along the Gulf Coast and around Georgia and South Carolina during the summer, they almost exclusively live in Florida at this time of year (much like seasonal residents!). Rivers, canals and other waterways allow for their safe passage to even warmer parts of the state when very cold weather kicks in, and you can often spot them as they make their way down.
Dolphins, like whales, have a layer of blubber designed to keep them warm in the cool ocean environment, which helps them during winter too. Like manatees, dolphins have to come up to the surface for air, so keep your eyes open for a chance to spot this playful, intelligent creature in action all season long!
How do our feathered friends stay warm during the cold winter months? Birds are warm-blooded like mammals, and flock to warmer environments during the winter months so that they can safely generate enough energy to regulate their bodies’ temperature. This is why many birds are called “snowbirds,” because—much like the seasonal residents nicknamed the same thing—they tend to come to Florida when the weather up north gets too cold. In Ponce Inlet and the surrounding area, these wintering birds include the piping plover, the majestic white pelican (which can often be seen swooping down for a snack in the water below!), the herring gull and many more. Also, birds are able to stay warm in cooler weather by trapping air close to their bodies thanks to their feathers, which also help insulate them from the brisk weather outside.
These are just a few of the animals you may be able to spot on your next Manatee Cruise adventure! Book your tour today and discover (or rediscover) the world of wildlife around you, and see what makes our slice of the Sunshine State so special.