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FWC reminding boaters to watch out for manatees while boating this Spring

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is reminding anyone out on the water to...
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is reminding anyone out on the water to be on the lookout for manatees while boating this Spring.(WCTV)
Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 6:41 PM CDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is reminding anyone out on the water to be on the lookout for manatees while boating this Spring.

According to a press release sent by FWC, as water temperatures warm, manatees naturally disperse from their winter habitats and will travel to other areas of the state and beyond. Because of this, manatees are more likely to be present in rivers, canals and nearshore waters.

In these areas, “It is crucial to stay alert and avoid manatees while traveling through Florida’s waterways,” FWC said.

“This year, especially along the east coast, it is critical that people watch for manatees when on the water,” said FWC Imperiled Species Management section leader. Ron Mezich.

From April 1 through Nov. 15, seasonal manatee zones require boaters to slow down in certain areas to prevent manatees in their summer habitats from being injured or killed by motorboats or watercrafts. FWC officers are on patrol in state waters to inform boaters of the seasonal manatee speed zones and take appropriate enforcement actions. Boaters are reminded to abide by the regulatory signs they see on the water.

Boat strikes continue to be a major threat to Florida manatees, according to FWC.

To help protect manatees while on the water, FWC issued the following tips:

· 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.

· Physically helping a stranded manatee may cause it more harm. Instead, report injured, distressed, sick or dead manatees 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.

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