Thursday, December 9, 2010

Boating in Cooler Weather, Watch Out for Manatees!

© 2010 Albert A Rasch and
The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles
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Protecting our Wildlife, Caution when Boating

Let's remember our wild neighbors when boating in the beaches, bays, rivers, and springs of sunny, fun filled Florida! Remember that manatees, our warm blooded, aquatic sea cows will congregate in warm waters as the tempertures drop.
Image Credit: ENS

From my friends at the FWC:
"Recent cold weather means high numbers of manatees may be concentrated in warm-water refuges near power plants, rivers and springs throughout the state. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) cautions boaters to be on the lookout for manatees moving into the Intracoastal Waterway to reach warm-water refuges at power plants and springs. Boaters should slow down and strictly obey posted speed restrictions in manatee protection zones.
Image Credit: Wkipedia

"When the weather changes, large numbers of these mammals move in and out of warm-water refuges and feeding areas," said Kipp Frohlich, the FWC's Imperiled Species Section leader. "That's when the greatest danger from boat strikes occurs. This pattern will repeat itself as winter cold fronts come and go."

The FWC and its law enforcement partners will be increasing patrols and strictly enforcing manatee-protection-zone speed limits to aid the animals during this period when they are most vulnerable to vessel strikes.

To avoid striking manatees, vessel operators should wear polarized sunglasses to help them spot the creatures in the water; and watch for the large, tell-tale circular slicks on the surface of the water (manatee footprints) that indicate the presence of manatees."

For more information on Florida's manatees, visit To report an injured or dead manatee, please call the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

UPDATE: The cold weather earlier this year led to a record high number of manatee deaths in 2010. From the beginning of the year through Dec. 5, biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) documented 699 manatee carcasses in state waters.

This preliminary data indicates the number of manatee deaths documented from Jan. 1 through Dec. 5 is nearly double the five-year average for that time period. There is more, read the report here.

Albert Rasch,HunterThough he spends most of his time writing and keeping the world safe for democracy, Albert was actually a student of biology. Really. But after a stint as a lab tech performing repetitious and mind-numbing processes that a trained capuchin monkey could do better, he never returned to the field. Rather he became a bartender. As he once said, "Hell, I was feeding mice all sorts of concoctions. At the club I did the same thing; except I got paid a lot better, and the rats where bigger." He has followed the science of QDM for many years, and fancies himself an aficionado. If you have any questions, or just want to get more information, reach him via TheRaschOutdoorChronicles(at)MSN(dot)com. He will get back to you, even if he is in Afghanistan!


Ian Nance said...

I was just in Homosassa last weekend. The springs are jammed up with manatees already - also monster snook. Went to the State Park there too on husband duty and had the pleasure of watching some clown in a pontoon motor right into the middle of the sea cows. Took him forever, and a screaming wife, for him to retreat out of the motor zone.

Hunt Like You're Hungry said...

Our albino pit is starting to resemble a manatee. I'd hate to run through a sea of Oscars, so I'll keep this in mind if I ever drive through somewhere with the sea bovines.


Michael Spinelli said...

My understanding is that they were once hunted for meat?!?! Is that so? They seem like such placid creatures that one wonders if they had been hunted how any could be left. Luckily there are!

Mike S

Albert A Rasch said...

I'll tell you all what though, they will scare the living daylights out of you when they pop up next to you outa nowhere!

Best Regards,
Albert A Rasch
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