Officially, it’s Manatee Awareness Month in the state of Florida, and the manatees are on the move. Save the Manatee are calling for the public to rise to the occasion again, and help this dignified and majestic marine mammal to get where it wants to go to.
It certainly can’t be said this gentle creature has had the best of years in 2013. The death toll has been extremely high. Two unusual algal blooms and the usual water craft accidents took out either them or their food supply, depleting their numbers by seven hundred and seventy-one by the beginning of November. The deadliest year ever recorded.
Now winter is almost upon us and the manatees need food and shelter in warmer waters. In 2010, hundreds of manatees died from cold stress. They cannot tolerate sustained temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. It is imperative they get to their destination before the temperatures fall too low.
Each year they migrate back to Florida to their warm winter sites. The safety of this already endangered species is paramount.
Here’s how you can help to see them securely along the rivers, canals and coastlines.
If you use any form of water craft, slow down for migrating manatees.
Don’t attempt to feed them. These awesome creatures don’t need to be encouraged to stay. Leave them to migrate. If they stay, they will die.
Stick with the marked channels.
Wear polarized sunglasses. These will improve your vision as manatees can be difficult to see in the water, despite their size.
Heed speed protection zones – They come into effect this week on November 15th.
Use poles, paddles or trolling motors when close to manatees.
Look out for rippling circles which the manatees create when they are just below the surface.
You can also blog like mad about them, helping to spread awareness of the manatees and their annual migration.
Eastern Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico residents and boating communities are asked to report any sightings of the endangered marine mammals to their local Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Stranding network phone numbers are posted at NOAA Fisheries
To report an injured, harassed, or dead manatee in Florida, call the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission Hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922)
Help the noble manatee to stay alive
Boaters cautioned to watch for migrating manatees (miamiherald.com)
FWC: Manatees headed to warmer waters (newsherald.com)
Florida manatees dying at record rates, 769 Have died thus far (endtimeheadlines.wordpress.com)