Manatees on the Move

November is Manatee Awareness Month in Florida. It is also a time that they begin migrating to warmer inland waters. They may have left a little earlier this year due to an early November cold snap. When coastal water temperatures drop to 70 degrees, these tropical marine mammals move inland in search of warmer waters. At 68 degrees or lower the manatees experience digestive issues that can be lethal.

This time of year Manatees are searching for warmer waters to help them survive winter’s cold. These waters are generally found inland at freshwater springs and in the out-flow of power plants. Other manatees migrate southward long distances through the Intracoastal Waterway. Many seasonal manatee protection zones go into effect November 15th.

Florida is home to more than 6,600 manatees. This year the Florida manatee was reclassified from endangered to a threatened status, under the federal Endangered Species Act, in a decision announced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. While this is a notable step, showing that actions taken by citizens and environmental groups are working, Florida officials ask the public to remain vigilant.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recommends the following ways that the citizens of Florida can keep making a difference for manatees:

Watch for these large aquatic mammals as they search for warmer waters to help them survive winter’s cold, which they generally find in freshwater springs and the outflow of power plants.

Wear polarized sunglasses to spot them moving, grazing and resting in the water. Keep a lookout for the circular “footprints” they leave on the surface of the water.

Slow down when boating and follow posted manatee zones.

Observe manatees from a distance to limit disturbance.

Report injured, entangled, orphaned or dead manatees to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline: 888-404-FWCC (3922), #FWC or *FWC on your cellphone or text Tip@myfwc.com

Continue to support the manatee decal and license plate, and tell everyone how the decal and license plate support the FWC’s manatee conservation efforts.

Photo Credit, Tracy Colson, US Fish and Wildlife Service

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