Watch out for Dolphins, Manatees & Turtles

Hayley Rutger of Mote Marine Laboratory asked us to share this press release with you as July 4th is fast approaching and there will be a lot of activity in and on the water.

Dolphins give birth during late spring and summer, and four dolphin calves have been born so far this year in Sarasota Bay. Dolphins do not, or cannot always get out of the way of approaching boats, and fatal collisions have been documented in Sarasota Bay. The Bay’s resident dolphins frequent shallow waters where they may be unable to dive below an approaching boat, and naïve newborn dolphins lack the skills and experience to avoid boats, and have to surface more frequently to breathe than do older dolphins. Most dolphin injuries from boat strikes have occurred in the weeks surrounding July 4.
Manatees are also on the move in the Bay for foraging and mating. People might observe mating herds: several manatees gathered as males vie to mate with a female.

Sea turtles are swimming just offshore to mate before the females come ashore to nest. So far this year, Mote’s animal rescuers have responded to or received many distressed or deceased sea turtles, including several affected by human activity.

Tips for boaters:

Follow Coast Guard-approved safe boating guidelines, comply with slow speed zone signs and use vigilance to avoid striking sea turtles, manatees and dolphins.

Follow 10 dolphin-friendly viewing tips that can be found at www.mote.org. These tips were made with dolphins in mind, but they’re also great guidelines for the best ways to view all large marine animals.

Wear polarized sunglasses to better see marine life in your path.

Never feed marine wildlife. It’s harmful and illegal to feed wild dolphins

Be sure to stow trash and line when under way. Marine debris that accidentally blows overboard or out of a truck can become ingested by or entangled around marine life.

If you observe a manatee mating herd – several manatees gathered as males vie to mate with a female – watch the manatees from at least 100 feet away. Coming any closer might disrupt the animals’ natural mating behavior or put people into harm’s way. Adult manatees typically weigh upwards of 1,000 pounds and people could be seriously injured.

Emergency contacts

If you see a sick, injured or stranded sea turtle or marine mammal in Sarasota or Manatee County waters, please contact Mote Marine Laboratory’s Stranding Investigations Program at 941-998-0212. Outside of Sarasota or Manatee counties, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922).

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