Watch for manatees when out on the water

■ STAFF REPORT

The summer season has arrived, and that can mean crowded conditions on Florida’s waterways.

Save the Manatee Club encourages the boating community to watch for manatees when out on the water.

Manatees usually swim about three to five miles per hour.

Because they are slow-moving, need to surface to breathe air, and prefer shallow water, they are vulnerable to boat strikes.

Manatees can suffer injury and death due to the crushing impact of the hull and/or the slashing of the propellers.

For the manatee’s protection, boaters are urged to:

• Follow all posted boat speed regulations and do not enter designated manatee sanctuaries.

• Wear polarized sunglasses to help see below the water’s surface.

• Look for a snout, back, tail, or flipper breaking the surface of the water or a swirl or flat spot created when the manatee dives or swims.

• Slow down if manatees are in the vicinity

• Stay in deepwater channels when boating.

• Avoid boating over seagrass beds and shallow areas where manatees might be feeding.

• Observe manatees from a distance and remember to “look, but don’t touch.” Resist the urge to feed manatees or give them water.

• Stash any trash and discard monofilament line, hooks, and other trash properly.

• Call 1-888-404-FWCC (3922), #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone, VHF Channel 16 on a marine radio, or send a text message to Tip@MyFWC.com to report a dead, orphaned, sick, or injured manatee, or a manatee being harassed.