Look Out For Manatees When Boating

For manatees near Sebastian and Vero Beach, it is the season when they leave their winter refuges and travel along the Atlantic and through inland waters.
For manatees near Sebastian and Vero Beach, it is the season when they leave their winter refuges and travel along the Atlantic and through inland waters.

SEBASTIAN – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is reminding boaters to look out for manatees in areas of Sebastian, Micco, and Vero Beach.

Chances of close encounters between manatees and boaters increase in the spring.

For manatees, it is the season when they leave their winter refuges and travel along the Atlantic and through inland waters near Sebastian and Vero Beach.

For boaters, it is a critical time to be on the lookout for manatees to avoid colliding with these large aquatic mammals.

“Spring is a great time to go boating in Florida, but manatees are out there too. Please watch out for them,” said Ron Mezich, who heads the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) manatee management program.

From April 1 through Nov. 15, seasonal manatee zones require boaters to slow down in certain areas to prevent manatees from being struck by motorboats or personal watercrafts.

FWC law enforcement officers are on patrol in state waters to remind boaters of the seasonal manatee speed zones and take enforcement actions when appropriate.

Since manatees are difficult to detect when underwater, operators of boats and personal watercrafts can help by:

  • Wearing polarized sunglasses to help spot manatees.
  • Looking for large circles on the water, also known as manatee footprints, indicating the presence of a manatee below.
  • Looking for a snout sticking up out of the water.
  • Following posted manatee zones while boating.
  • Reporting an injured, distressed, sick or dead manatee to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or dialing #FWC or *FWC on a cellphone.

FWC biologists, managers, and law enforcement staff work closely with partners to evaluate current data and identify necessary actions to protect this iconic animal. Florida has invested over $2 million annually for manatee conservation, and the FWC works toward continued success for manatees in our state.

Manatee zones and maps are available at MyFWC.com/Manatee, where you can select “Protection Zones” for links to county maps.

Boaters can get tips from “A boater’s guide to living with Florida Manatees.” And if you want to see manatees in the wild or captivity, go to “Where are Florida’s Manatees?”

To support the FWC’s manatee research, rescue and management efforts, purchase a Save the Manatee Florida license plate, or donate $5 to receive an FWC manatee decal by going to MyFWC.com/Manatee and clicking on “Decals.”

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About Andy Hodges
Andy Hodges was born in Annapolis, Maryland and raised in Jupiter, Florida. Andy has been a radio & TV personality since the 1980s. He has worked for WLIZ, WFLX-FOX 29, WIRK, WIXI, WKSY, WRMF, and WJNO to name a few. After spending 7 years in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1990s, Andy returned to Florida and settled in the small town of Sebastian in 2000. In 2005, he returned to the broadcasting news sector and eventually joined our news team in 2016 as editor in chief. Andy's family has lived in Sebastian for more than 45 years.