“This year we may see changes in boating traffic patterns as a result of the economic downturn,” said Dr. Katie Tripp, Director of Science and Conservation for Save the Manatee Club. “More people may be staying closer to shore to save gas and limit expenses instead of heading offshore, and that would keep them closer to areas frequented by manatees.”
To help safeguard manatees, boaters should follow all posted boat speed regulations, slow down if manatees are in the vicinity, and stay in deep water channels when possible. If you see an injured, dead, tagged or orphaned manatee, or a manatee who is being harassed, call the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) or #FWC or *FWC on your cellular phone, or use VHF Channel 16 on your marine radio.
“Manatee deaths from boat collisions continue to be a significant, yet preventable cause of manatee mortality,” said Dr. Tripp. “The more that Florida’s boaters know about manatees and how to operate their vessels safely in waters that are shared by manatees, the better the chance we have of reducing the number of watercraft injuries and mortalities for this endangered species.”
The Club also encourages the public to take a boating safety course. For more information on classes, go to Save the Manatee Club’s website at the “Manatee Protection Tips for Boaters” page found at http://www.savethemanatee.org/boatertips.htm.
Brigitte Steinmann-Riddle & Ray Riddle from Pasco County, Florida, keep the Club’s boating banner aboard their 42’ Bristol Trawler, “Alegria.” “We take it along on all our cruises and use it faithfully,” explains Brigitte. “We usually see lots of dolphins and manatees since our top speed is 9 knots and we cruise around 7 knots for maximum fuel economy.”
Also, if you are a Florida shoreline property owner, you can get a free aluminum sign for your dock which reads, “Please Watch for Manatees: Operate With Care.”
For more information on manatees, the Adopt-A-Manatee® program, or to sign up for the Club’s free e-newsletter, visit the Club’s website at www.savethemanatee.org, call the toll free number listed above, or send a request via regular mail.