JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Watch for manatees and obey the rules of the waterway! That's the message to boaters from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Officials say slowing down while boating in manatee zones helped reduce manatee deaths in North Florida waterways to zero, last year, and they want that trend to continue.
In 2017, six manatees died.
Jerry Pinto is a researcher at Jacksonville University. He said being vigilant while on the water and obeying manatee zone speed limits is the best way to keep manatees safe.
FWC also wants to remind boaters and anglers that it is illegal to feed manatees.
Boaters are urged to not operate boats while under the influence of alcohol.
The penalties for BUI can include large fines, revocation of operator privileges and serious jail terms, according to the U.S.Coast Guard.
Officials said the use of alcohol is involved in about a third of all recreational boating fatalities.
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