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Manatee Season is Here: Boaters are Advised to Proceed with Caution

beached sailboat on its side

Manatee season is here, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is cautioning boaters to proceed with care. Here are a few things that drivers should keep in mind while cruising along in the Atlantic Ocean in spring, summer, and fall.

Manatees are slow-moving creatures
Although large in stature, these animals are not capable of moving about quickly. Boaters should, therefore, slow down just in case one of the creatures is in their path. Such is especially true when traveling in an area more prone to Manatee habitation. A motorist could cause a serious boating injury if he were to strike one of these large creatures at high speeds.

Manatees are difficult to detect
Some drivers are unable to identify manatees until it is too late. Such is the reason why wearing polarized sunglasses is so important. Not only do these accessories protect the driver’s eyes from dangerous sun rays, but the glasses also help motorists identify manatees from a further distance.Drivers without polarized sunglasses will need to be more mindful of the presence of manatees by looking out for footprints that indicate the creature’s presence below. Manatees also have a habit of sticking their snout up out of the water, so drivers should be more cautious if they see what appears to be a lump of earth bursting through the ocean’s surface. The “rock” may be a snout and clear indication of manatees present.Paying attention to local signs is the best way for individuals with polarized sunglasses and without the gadgets to steer clear of manatees traveling from one part of the ocean to the other. Local authorities make certain to designate manatee zones that protect the sea creatures while also keeping boaters safe.

Manatees are protected by law
Although they are no longer on the endangered list, Florida Manatees are still listed as threatened species that the federal government goes to great lengths to protect. Intentionally running down one of these sea creatures is a crime punishable by law and a strike against nature.

Law enforcement officers of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission dedicate themselves to patrolling the waters during manatee season, which is from April 1 through November 15, to ensure that drivers comply with speed regulations. While a first offense may result in nothing more than a verbal warning, second and third offenses could come with more harsh consequences. Boaters are advised to be adventurous and alert this season.

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