TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is urging boaters to be cautious on the water this Memorial Day weekend to keep Florida’s native West Indian manatee safe.
In a Facebook post with video from the Save the Manatee Club, FWC Manatee Rescue Coordinator Andy Garrett speaks to Floridians and visitors about what they should do to keep manatees and other wildlife safe this weekend and all weekends.
“Abide by posted speed zone signs at all times and have someone on your boat serve as a lookout. Look for circular wave patterns on the water [that] indicate a manatee is nearby,” Garrett says in the video.
Garret says there are indications a manatee may be nearby when boaters are out on the water.
“So when you’re on the water and you’re in a manatee area and you think there are manatees nearby, sometimes you can see manatee slicks, or manatee footprints. Those are big distortions on top of the water where an animal has swam by. So you’ll know they’re in the area when you see those,” he says.
Boaters are encouraged to wear polarized sunglasses to cut down glare so manatees are easier to see.
Fishermen should not discard monofilament line into the water. Manatees and other animals could become entangled in the line or ingest it.
Garret says if you end up striking a manatee with a boat or you think you may have struck an animal, call FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline, even if you no longer see the animal.
The Wildlife Alert Hotline can be reached at 888-404-FWCC or by calling *FWC or #FWC on a cell phone.
Injured, sick or dead manatees should be called in to the hotline as well.