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Manatee Viewing Do's and Don'ts

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Schessl | Green Wave Forum News
Published Saturday, October 31, 2009


It's getting that time of year again. The water is cooling down and manatee viewing hot spots like Crystal River on the west coast and Blue Spring on the east are heating up. People come from all over the world to view the gentle giants and take home memories and a snapshot or two. A few people, not content with photos, want more interaction and to swim with or touch manatees. This article is for those folk.

Here are a few statistics scraped from web sources, such as Florida FWC and Save The Manatee org.

The West Indian manatee is an endangered animal under the US Endangered Species Act. According to the 2009 Florida Fish and Wildlife Manatee Aerial Survey, it is estimated there are about 2,800-3,800 manatees in Florida and the population has fluctuated from 1,700 to 3,800 during the past 15 years.

On the website it says that 45% of all manatee deaths have been attributed to human activity, where the cause of death could be determined. Because all of these deaths are preventable, there are some basic rules to follow when viewing manatee.

Manatee Don'ts:

  • Do not enter designated manatee sanctuaries for any reason.
  • Do not touch them. This includes riding and poking at them.
  • Do not feed manatees or give them water.
  • Do not surround them with a large group of people or boats.
  • Do not chase manatee with your boat or by swimming after them.
  • Do not take any action that separates a mother and calf.
  • Do not use SCUBA gear when viewing manatee from underwater.

Manatee Do's:

  • Do view manatee from a distance. This allows you to see manatee in their natural state of being.
  • Do paddle or swim quietly, without splashing or thrashing around.
  • Do use snorkeling gear (mask, snorkel, fins) for underwater viewing.
  • Do cleanup monofilament line and fishing hooks from areas frequented by manatee.
  • Do tell approaching power boaters to stay at least 50 feet from manatee - especially if the boat's motor is running.
  • Do call 1-888-404-3922 or *FMP or #FWC from a cell phone if you see an injured, dead or orphaned manatee.
  • Do call those same numbers if you see someone harassing a manatee.

Remember, federal and state law protects manatees. Anything that you do to disrupt their normal behavior can be considered a violation of law and is punishable by up to $100,000 fine. That much money can buy plenty of kayaks, canoes and trips to exciting far away destinations. Don't spend it foolishly because you contributed to a manatee injury or death.

Last update Friday, December 04, 2009

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Cmt Manatee Viewing Do's and Don'tsLogin to Post   
You are in the public comment zone. What follows is not from Green Wave Forum; it comes from other people and we don't vouch for it.
Unknown on 11/25/2009 6:07pm
Maybe a diver down flag.
admin on 11/25/2009 5:29pm
Yeah, I need to add some blinky red thing to the home page to notify people of new articles.
Unknown on 11/24/2009 8:04pm
I'm seeing this today for the first time. Interesting it was up ten day before the "Manatree Petting" thread. No one seemed to see it. Good info.