It is that time of the year again when the FWC urges boaters to follow the posted speed zones and watch for manatees as temperatures warm. Manatees are once again moving from warm water sites to coastal areas where they forage for food, rest and care for their young.
Unfortunately the number of documented manatee deaths resulting from watercraft strikes was higher than average statewide from December to March 27. It was particularly high in the southeastern region of Florida where necropsy results show that at least 17 manatees died from boat strikes from irresponsible boat handling . The FWC has been carefully following the mortality numbers, and researchers have provided regular updates to management and law enforcement, regarding the location and movement of manatees. FWC’s Division of Law Enforcement used the information to direct patrols in the areas of concern.
The public is encouraged to call FWC’s Wildlife Alert hotline, 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) to report any dead or injured manatees.
Now with the warmer temperatures, manatees will be vulnerable as they migrate and forage in the same waterways shared by many boaters along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.
“Boaters can help manatees have a safe migration by staying in marked channels, wearing polarized sunglasses to improve vision, obeying posted boat speed zones and having someone help scan the water when under way.” said Kipp Frohlich, leader of the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management Section.
During warm weather, some waterways will have more restrictive waterway speed zones. Boaters in Citrus, Hillsborough, Lee, Pinellas and Volusia counties should be aware of speed zone changes in a few manatee habitat locations.
For more information about manatees, visit MyFWC.com/manatee/.