The Fourth of July in Florida means heading to the beach or taking the boat out for fun in the sun. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is reminding Florida residents and visitors to keep an eye out for wildlife as we enjoy our state’s beautiful outdoors this weekend.
While we flock to the beach or cruise through our state’s waterways, we can all do our part to be respectful of wildlife. All Florida wildlife needs your help to keep them safe by remembering these helpful summer tips:
Stash your trash
Keep our beaches free of clutter including beach chairs and trash. If you brought it to the beach, remember to take it all with you when you leave and throw garbage in the proper trash bins.
Share the shore with nesting wildlife
Respect posted signage and keep your distance from all nesting wildlife. Shorebirds build nests in the sand and their tiny, camouflaged chicks can be hard to see. Be on the lookout for signs designating Critical Wildlife Areas on the beach or coastal islands – these areas are closed to public access to protect wading birds and shorebirds while they nest and raise their chicks.
Sea turtles are nesting on our beaches, too, and some baby turtles are emerging from their nests right now! Remember to give them space as they make their way to the water on their own. If you dig in the sand, fill in the holes before you leave so sea turtles do not fall into them.
Attend an official fireworks show and leave personal fireworks at home
The loud sounds and bright lights of personal fireworks on Florida’s beaches and waterways can have catastrophic effects on nesting birds and their chicks, as well as nesting sea turtles.
Go slow in manatee zones and look out below for Florida manatees while boating
Manatees can be difficult to detect when they are underwater, so it is important for operators of boats and personal watercrafts to be vigilant. You can help protect manatees by following these simple guidelines:
- Wear polarized sunglasses to help spot manatees.
- Avoid boating in shallow areas to prevent damaging seagrass and to avoid resting and grazing manatees.
- Look for 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.
Report sick, injured, distressed or dead manatees, sea turtles or shorebirds, or any wildlife violations to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or by dialing #FWC or *FWC on a cellphone so trained responders can assist.