Friday, 15 May 2009 16:47

On Memorial Day Weekend Manatees and Boats Share The Waterways

Written by  Janice Nearing
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Florida Manatee - Endangered SpeciesSunny skies, warm temperatures and abundant waterways are a powerful attraction to the million and a half residents and visitors who make up Florida’s recreational boating community. Once the Memorial Day weekend begins, boating season will officially be in full swing, and Save the Manatee Club cautions boaters to watch out for the endangered manatees who share the waters with them.

“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.

Florida marinas, dive shops, parks, and businesses that are interested in obtaining a free “Boat Safely” manatee conservation poster should contact Save the Manatee Club via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., by regular mail at 500 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland, FL 32751, or by calling toll free at 1-800-432-JOIN (5646). Please include your contact information along with full information on where the poster will be displayed.

Florida boaters can also request a free, “Please Slow: Manatees Below” waterproof yellow banner by contacting Save the Manatee Club via e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Include full mailing information along with the area where you boat in Florida. The banners can be used to quickly alert other boaters that manatees are present in the area.

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.

Read 1622 times Last modified on Friday, 15 May 2009 17:02

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