Photograph Credit: Eugene Kelly
The Homosassa River is another of the spring-fed rivers within the Springs Coast Watershed. The headwater springs of the Homosassa River are home to both freshwater and saltwater fish. This phenomenon is possible because the mineral content in the spring water resembles minerals found in salt water. The similar mineral content and some fishes' ability to tolerate broad changes in salinity allows some species of saltwater fish to live in these freshwater habitats. The freshwater fish you'll find in the Homosassa River include bream, largemouth bass and gar. Some of the saltwater species you'll see include jacks, mullet, sheepshead and snook.
The area now known as Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park has been a tourist attraction since the early 1900s. Back then, trains used to stop to let rail passengers rest at the springs while the train was loaded with fish, crabs, cedar and spring water. Today, Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park is owned by the state and managed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The park offers educational programs for kids and adults every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Because the park serves as a rehabilitation center and refuge for endangered manatees that have been orphaned or injured in the wild, these marine mammals can be seen year-round at Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park. The park has an underwater observatory that allows visitors to come nose to nose with these manatees. For their protection, the park does not allow swimming with the manatees. These animals would not recover as quickly and might lose their fear of humans, placing them at risk once they are returned to the wild.
Next stop: Chassahowitzka River