Remember not to hit any manatees this holiday weekend

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida. – Memorial Day weekend is considered by some to be the unofficial start of summer and, not coincidentally, the perfect time to get back in the water. Unfortunately, according to conservationists and wildlife officials, manatees have similar plans.

It’s that time of year that Florida’s beloved sea cows leave their winter habitats, putting them at risk as they navigate bodies of water where they risk being skinned alive by animals. irresponsible boaters. For the holiday weekend, law enforcement officers from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will patrol these waterways to make sure boaters follow the rules.

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Rachel Shanker, liaison officer and educator at Florida Power and Light’s Manatee Lagoon Center, urged boaters to watch out for manatees and obey the speed limit in manatee areas.

“We have so many amazing species, like manatees, sea turtles and many more that are often hit by boats, so we have to be very careful and aware when out on the water,” Shanker said. .

In a statement, the center stressed the importance of avoiding preventable manatee deaths as much as possible, as the species attempts to recover from an ongoing Unusual Mortality Event (UME) that killed a record 1 100 manatees in 2021. The trend was considered an UME. in April 2021 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as manatees starved, primarily in the Indian River Lagoon, prompting never-before-seen efforts to supplement their diets.

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According to FWC, at least 31 manatees have been killed by watercraft so far in 2022. Manatee Lagoon suggested following these safety tips to prevent this number from increasing on your behalf:

  • Wear polarized sunglasses to reduce glare.

  • Avoid steering your craft into shallow areas where manatees might graze.

  • Look for “manatee footprints”, large circles in the water that form above the manatees.

  • Obey the speed limit in FWC seasonal manatee protection areas and in no-wake areas.

  • Look for manatee snouts peeking above the water.

  • Never approach, feed or give water to manatees.

Report injured, distressed, sick, or dead manatees to the FWC by calling its alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

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