Watch for Manatees, State Warns
With warmer weather, the sea creatures are headed up north. Boaters should be on the lookout for them, state wildlife officials say.
TAMPA BAY – Taking their cues from the warm spring weather, Florida manatees have begun leaving their winter retreats and heading north along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and through inland waters.
If you’re a boater enjoying spring days on the water, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission cautions you to look out for manatees and follow posted manatee zones.
From Firday (April 1) through Nov. 15, seasonal manatee zones require boaters to slow down in certain areas to prevent manatees from being struck by motorboats or personal watercraft.
FWC law enforcement officers will be on patrol in state waters to remind boaters of the seasonal manatee speed zones and will take enforcement actions when necessary.
“Our officers do their very best to support conservation of this species,” said FWC Capt. Gary Klein. “We ask that boaters take notice of the zones and do their part as well by increasing their awareness of the possible presence of manatees.”
Because manatees are large, slow-moving and difficult to detect when underwater, operators of boats and personal watercraft need to take basic steps to avoid causing injury to manatees:
- Wear polarized sunglasses to help spot manatees.
- Look for the large circles on the water, also known as manatee footprints, indicating the presence of a manatee below.
- Look for a snout sticking up out of the water.
- Follow posted manatee zones while boating.
The FWC also asks anyone seeing an injured, distressed, sick or dead manatee to call the agency’s Wildlife Alert Hotline, 888-404-3922 (FWCC) or dial #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone.
For information about the FWC, manatees, maps of manatee zones and tips for manatee watching, go to myfwc.com.
Florida Fish and Wildlife | Manatees | Manatee Zones | TB Reporter
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