STAFF REPORT- On Monday, September 7th, celebrate both Labor Day and International Manatee Day by remembering to boat safely and watch out for manatees on the waterways.
While the day recognizes manatees all over the world, Save the Manatee Club encourages boaters around the southeastern U.S. to vigilantly watch for manatees and obey posted speed zones during the busy boating weekend.
Watercraft-related deaths continue to be the leading cause of manatee mortalities in Florida, caused by blunt impacts from the hull and lower unit, or slashing of the propellers and skegs.
“Most living wild manatees also bear scars from these accidental encounters, demonstrating with graphic evidence that most manatees have already been but inches away from losing their lives,” explained Patrick Rose, Save the Manatee Club’s Executive Director and Aquatic Biologist. “Continued help and support from informed boaters is the key to a safer future for manatees.”
Although these gentle giants are large, they are not always easy to spot. At this time of year, manatees can be found in coastal waters, rivers, lakes, bays, estuaries, and canals. Boaters and passengers should wear polarized sunglasses to reduce glare on the water and keep their eyes peeled for manatee snouts, tails, and footprints on the water’s surface – a designated “manatee spotter” on board can keep a lookout. Manatees are also slow-moving and prefer shallow waters and areas rich with aquatic vegetation, which is why it’s important to follow speed regulations and boat slowly in these zones.
Save the Manatee Club thanks residents and boaters for their role in protecting manatees and offers several free resources. Boaters can request a boating safety kit, which includes a waterway card with manatee protection tips, a boating banner to alert others of nearby manatees, and a decal with the number for reporting injured manatees. Shoreline property owners can request bright yellow signs reminding boaters to go “Slow Please.” To get more information, visit savethemanatee.org/resources. Requests for the free materials can be sent to email@example.com or by calling toll-free at 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).
In addition to providing free resources to increase public awareness and reduce negative impacts to manatees, Save the Manatee Club supports manatees around the world through international conservation efforts. “We are working to provide critical materials to manatee rescue and rehabilitation facilities in the Caribbean and Central America as well as support for researchers and manatee advocates in Mexico and West Africa,” says Rose. This assistance helps with the protection of imperiled manatees and their habitats throughout the world.
Join us Monday, September 7th in recognizing International Manatee Day and enjoying Labor Day the manatee-safe way.
Save the Manatee Club was founded in 1981 by singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett and former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham to protect manatees and their aquatic habitat. For more information about manatees and the Club’s efforts, go to savethemanatee.org or call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).