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 reach warm-water refuges at power plants and springs. Boaters should slow down and strictly obey posted speed restrictions in manatee protection zones.
“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 MyFWC.com/Manatee. To report an injured or dead manatee, please call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).