The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said its officers have seen an uptick in manatee deaths caused by boats.
Wildlife officials are planning to step up patrols in areas where manatees are most at risk.
According to state statistics, this year, boat injuries have killed 89 manatees compared to 65 at this time last year.
In Duval County, there have been five reported manatee deaths so far this year, three of them boat-related.
The FWC said boaters can do their part to keep the sea cows safe.
If you're on the St. Johns River, pay attention to your surroundings, follow the speed zones signs, wear sunglasses so you can clearly see if anything is in the water, try to stay in deep-water channels and avoid boating in seagrass beds and shallow areas.
The FWC said the new patrols will help keep the public safe and enhance manatee conservation.
“We strategically assign officers to patrol certain areas based on boating activity and manatee data,” said Col. Curtis Brown, director of the FWC’s Division of Law Enforcement. “We also work closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and local partners to make sure that boaters know to look out for manatees. We want people and manatees to be safe.”
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