It’s peak boating season in Florida, and the upcoming Fourth of July holiday and the weekend following means the waterways will be jammed with recreational boaters. Save the Manatee Club urges the boating community to be on the lookout for manatees, and offers free boating banners and other public awareness materials to protect the endangered marine mammals.
The Club produces bright yellow, waterproof boating banners and provides them free to Florida boaters to help warn other boaters when manatees are sighted in the area. By carrying the “Please Slow Manatees Below” banner in motor boats, kayaks, and canoes, it becomes easier to alert other boaters to the presence of manatees.
The Club also produces and distributes free shoreline property signs and boating decals with the message to “Slow Please,” and both feature the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) hotline number for reporting manatees in distress.
“Florida’s manatees have already suffered a catastrophic year due to a prolonged red tide event in Southwest Florida and an unknown toxin in the Indian River Lagoon,” says Dr. Katie Tripp, Director of Science and Conservation for Save the Manatee Club. “In addition to these complex events, boat collisions continue to pose a serious long-term threat to the manatee population. Responsible, thoughtful boating practices can save manatee lives, and is crucial during busy holidays when more boaters are out on the water and the risks to manatees and other wildlife increase.”
Save the Manatee Club encourages boaters to observe all posted boat speed regulations, slow down if manatees are in the vicinity, and stay in deep water channels when possible. If you see an injured, dead, tagged or orphaned manatee, or a manatee who is being harassed, call the FWC at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) or #FWC or *FWC on your cellular phone, or use VHF Channel 16 on your marine radio. Boaters should also call this number if they accidentally strike a manatee. Recreational boaters are advised to review and carry up-to-date navigation charts onboard their vessels to help avoid shallow areas where manatees feed and rest. Boating guides that feature manatee speed zones for each regulated county are available from FWC and should also be reviewed prior to boating and kept onboard for future reference. More “Manatee Protection Tips for Boaters” can be found on the Club’s website at http://www.savethemanatee.org/boatertips.htm.
Free banners, signs, decals, & helpful waterway cards can be obtained by contacting Save the Manatee Club via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by regular mail at 500 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland, FL 32751, or by calling toll free at 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).
For more information on manatees, the Adopt-A-Manatee® program, or to sign up for the Club’s free e-newsletter, visit the Club’s website at www.savethemanatee.org.
Follow the Club using Twitter http://twitter.com/savethemanatee and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/savethemanateeclub.