Help manatees stay safe on Labor Day
Save the Manatee Club urges all boaters to practice “safety first” for the well-being of other boaters, endangered manatees, and other aquatic wildlife and natural resources.
Collisions with boats continue to be the leading known cause of manatee injuries and deaths.
“In the past five years, the number of watercraft-related deaths from January to July has remained relatively the same,” says Save the Manatee Club’s staff biologist, Courtney Edwards.
Since manatees must surface to breathe and they prefer shallow waters, the Save the Manatee Club reminds boaters to observe all manatee speed zones and caution areas in manatee habitat to reduce the risk of boating collisions with these marine mammals, and to reduce the number of watercraft-related manatee injuries and deaths. Report manatee zone violations and manatee injuries to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) by calling their hotline number immediately at 1-888-404-3922.
Save the Manatee Club also encourages boaters to be proactive on the busy waterways by using the Club’s free yellow public awareness banners that state, “Please Slow: Manatees Below.” The banners alert other boaters to manatees in the area and can help to avoid potentially harmful situations. Ninety percent of Florida’s manatees bear scars from collisions with one or more motorized vessels.
Free shoreline property signs and weatherproof boat decals are also available from Save the Manatee Club. They encourage boaters to slow down and also feature the FWC hotline number for reporting injured manatees. Boaters can also request a “Boating Safety Packet” which contains the boat decal and a newly designed waterproof card that was created in conjunction with the FWC and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Requests for the free banners, signs, decals, and Boater Safety Packets can be sent via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling toll free at 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).
Those out on the water for the final big weekend of the 2012 summer boating season, remember that if you see an injured, dead, tagged or orphaned manatee, or a manatee who is being harassed, call the FWC hotline number at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) or #FWC or *FWC on cellular phones, or use VHF Channel 16 on marine radios.
For more information on endangered manatees, the Adopt-A-Manatee program, or to sign up for the Club’s free e-newsletter, visit the Club’s website at savethemanatee.org. Look for “Manatee Protection Tips for Boaters” on the Club’s website at savethemanatee.org/boatertips.htm.