As cooler weather comes to our area (finally!), manatees begin to migrate to warmer water, so many of Florida’s over 7,000 manatees will be on the move. Since manatees can’t very well handle water cooler than 68 degrees, disturbing them may cause them to leave warmer water when it’s critical for them to be there.
“Manatees are more vulnerable in the winter months and it’s important not to disturb them, especially at warm-water sites,” said Ron Mezich, who leads the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management Section. “Getting too close to manatees can cause them to leave these critical areas at a time when it is important for them to stay in warm water habitats.”
Boaters can help share the habitats with manatees by doing some common sense things.
Polarized sunglasses will help spot them in the water, especially in posted manatee zones. If you’re going to observe manatees, do it from a distance. Report injured, entangled, orphaned or dead manatees to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline: 888-404-FWCC (3922), #FWC or *FWC on your cellphone or text Tip@MyFWC.com. It is important that you obtain immediate help for an injured manatee. The sooner the animal is located and its condition is assessed, the better its chances for survival (You will not be cited if you accidentally collide with a manatee while obeying speed restrictions).
Maps of manatee protection zones in your area and information about cold weather seasonal zone changes are available online at MyFWC.com/Manatee by clicking on “Rules/Data and Maps.”
Show your support for manatees and spread awareness about the importance of warm-water habitat with a 2019 “Warm Water Saves Manatees” decal. These high-quality decals feature beautiful original art and look great on any boat, car or cooler. Get yours today by making a $5 donation at your local Tax Collector’s office.
For more information about manatees in Florida, go to MyFWC.com/Manatee.