JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

As another boating season begins, agencies who patrol area waterways are ramping up enforcement of boating rules and patrols of manatee zones to help protect about 150 gentle giants who live along the St. Johns River and its tributaries.

Manatees are an endangered species. Last year manatee deaths in Northeast Florida were attributed to boating accidents.

"The problem we've had in recent years is excessive manatee boat strikes," said Dr. Quinton White, a marine biologist with Jacksonville University.

On Friday, multiple law enforcement agencies came together to announce a crackdown on boaters who speed in designated manatee areas, which are clearly marked with white and orange signs.

MORE ONLINE: Manatee zones | Manatee sightings | JSO Marine Unit

"We do deployments with the different units just to enforce the manatee zone laws," said Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Sgt. Pat Grant.

Police say they take the violations very seriously, and boaters officers caught speeding ion the water Friday were cooperative, so they got off with a warning.and a lesson.

"I think it's a great idea," said boater Ned Lunn. "We need to protect our natural resources, especially the manatees."