November is Manatee Awareness Month and The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wants boaters to remember that Manatees are now on the move migrating to warmer waters for the winter. And because of that injuries to manatees from boat strikes are more common this time of year.
Boaters can make a big difference by following guidelines and obeying manatee protection zones, which go into effect in the fall, depending on the county. The zones are marked by waterway signs and maps of manatee protection zones are available online at MyFWC.com/Manatee by clicking on “Data and Maps.”
“This is a very important time of year for manatees and we need the public’s help to make sure they get to their warm-water habitats safely and are not disturbed during the colder winter months” said Michelle Pasawicz, manatee management program lead with the FWC. “By going slow while on the water and viewing manatees from a safe and respectful distance, you can help conserve them so future generations are able to enjoy these amazing animals.”
Ways you can help manatees:
- Observe manatees from a distance to limit disturbance. Disturbing manatees at their warm-water sites may cause them to leave these areas during the winter.
- Follow posted manatee protection zones.
- Wear polarized sunglasses to spot them moving, grazing and resting in the water.
- Keep a lookout for the circular “footprints” or ripples they leave on the surface of the water.
- Follow manatee viewing guidelinesand always observe manatees from a respectful distance.
- Don’t feed or water manatees. Doing so is illegal and can put manatees at risk.
- Report injured, entangled, orphaned or dead manatees to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline: 888-404-FWCC(3922), #FWC on your cellphone or text Tip@MyFWC.com.
- Purchase a manatee decal or license plateand let your friends know how you’re helping support the FWC’s manatee conservation efforts.
- Contribute to the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida’s Marine Mammal Fund by visiting WildlifeFlorida.organd clicking on “Support Us,” “Funding Priorities” and “Marine Mammal Fund.”