It’s International Manatee Day! Go slow and look below

Manatees are Florida’s official marine mammal

SeaWorld is caring for sick and orphaned manatees. (News 6)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – International Manatee Day is Wednesday, Sept. 7, and we are reminding Floridians to protect the vulnerable marine mammal with no known natural enemy.

Manatees face many threats, from habitat loss to watercraft collisions, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reminds anyone on the water to slow down and look out for manatees while boating in Florida.

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 personal watercraft. Boat strikes continue to be a major threat to Florida manatees. In 2020, FWC and partners rescued 29 manatees injured from watercraft collisions and more died because of watercraft impacts. FWC law enforcement 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.

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has rescued a manatee that was injured from boat strikes on Wednesday.

Manatees can be difficult to detect when they are underwater, so it is important for operators of boats and personal watercraft to be vigilant.

You can help protect manatees by following these simple guidelines:

  • Look but don’t touch! Practice “passive observation” and observe manatees from above water and at a distance
  • Do not feed manatees or give them water
  • 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.

Resources for boaters, educators and other interested members of the public are available at MyFWC.com/Manatee. What should you do if you see a manatee? The Viewing Guidelines page provides helpful tips on respectfully viewing manatees, additional guidelines for boat and personal watercraft operators and information on what you can do to help these amazing aquatic mammals.

Click here for more information.

Save the Manatee Club supports researchers and communities in many places worldwide. Donations through our International Rescue Fund and Amazon Wish List provide funding and support for: Wider Caribbean, Africa, & South America.


About the Author:

Carianne Luter is a social media producer for News4Jax and has worked at Channel 4 since December 2015. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a degree in communications.