Manatees are among Florida’s best-loved animals. While they are no longer endangered, they are still considered “threatened,” so if you enjoy boating or jet skiing, it’s important to take steps to protect them.
Here’s how to protect manatees when boating:
- Avoid boating over shallow areas and seagrass beds, where manatees tend to feed.
- Look out for swirls and flat spots on the water, which can be an indication that a manatee is nearby. The manatee’s tail creates these water movements when the animal swims or dives beneath the surface of the water.
- Also keep an eye out for a flipper, snout, tail or back that may have broken the surface of the water.
- Wear polarized sunglasses to make it easier to see any manatees in the area.
- If you spot a manatee, keep your distance. Try to stay at least 50 feet away from any manatees you see. If you find yourself closer to one, cut the motor to avoid harming it.
- Follow the “look but don’t touch” rule if a manatee comes near. Avoid feeding manatees, as this can alter their feeding patterns and encourage them to come close to humans who might harm them.
- In all cases, obey posted speed limits.
- This one may sound obvious, but it’s important. Never boat or jet ski in a posted manatee sanctuary.
- If you see an injured or dead manatee, report it to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-FWCC or send an email to Tip@MyFWC.com.
At Woody’s Watersports, we care about safety—yours and that of our local wildlife. Check us out to rent a jet ski on your next trip to Madeira Beach!