Hurricane Irma Update from Crystal River

Crystal River Watersports and the surrounding community were spared much of the wrath of Hurricane Irma. There were localized power outages that ranged from hours to a week. We only lost power for a few hours and were ready to host guests within a couple of days of the hurricane. The hotels, restaurants and other businesses were also open within a few days and ready to host your trips to explore Florida’s Nature Coast.

While on our tours, guests see a variety of birds. Bob Messersmith, President of the Citrus County Audubon Society, said “Most birds just hunker down and wait for the storm to pass. They get on the lee side of a tree, grab hold of a branch and just wait out the wind and rain.” Many adults and juveniles will ride out the storm and survive. Risks are to flightless birds and nests with eggs. Luckily the storm had dropped to tropical strength and the eye had largely dissipated before reaching Crystal River. We are hopeful that the damage to the birds was minimal and that the existing population is resilient and will quickly rebound.

The stars of Crystal River are the manatees. Robert Bonde, PhD Research Biologist – Sirenia Project stated that it is his “impression that manatees do fairly well during hurricane events. We have not seen any substantial mortality associated with hurricanes.” One paper does suggest that adult survival decreases after storm events. This could be do to either death, relocation from traditional locations or becoming a victim of drift due to offshore currents. Irma likely did not cause any of these problems.

Historically, some manatees have found themselves stranded after flooding events when they have gotten into areas without natural access. The only reported case after Irma were manatees that made their way into a local golf course pond. A partial embankment collapse allowed the manatees to exit the pond at high tides. They were monitored and seen entering and leaving the pond regularly for a few days to enjoy the vegetation in the pond.

Dr. Bonde also stated, “He has observed manatees during windy storms and often they do not seek out calmer water where our terrestrial logic would warrant. In some instances they stay on the windy side of a land mass, when reason would expect them to go around to the sheltered side when available. Maybe in those situations, they may have better access to drifting vegetation that tends to build up along the stormy side.”

Crystal River Watersports is ready to welcome you to Observe and Preserve Nature Above, In and Under Water. Give us a call to explore all that Florida’s Nature Coast has to offer.