Lee County proposes potential year-round manatee zone on the bayou

November 20, 2021
By Staff Report

Lee County Commissioners want to place year-round slow-speed zones for boaters in certain areas to help better protect manatees.

The proposed slow speed zone ordinance would be applicable to, among other Lee County waterways, the Boca Grande Bayou.

Manatees disperse during summer months, but when waters elsewhere grow too cold for them to survive they return to Florida. The cooler the water, the more likely it will be for manatees to congregate in the more shallow, warm comfort of smaller waterways.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported that from January 1, 2021 to November 5, 2021, 997 manatees died in Florida waterways. Their reports indicate that 89 of those deaths were because of boats.

While food supply and other factors have also contributed to the rise in deaths, fast-moving boats have always been the leading factor in manatee deaths. 

Lee County Commissioners have yet to submit a plan for approval to the FWC, and after that the ordinance has to pass through a public hearing. Lee County officials say they are still in the planning stages and boaters should not expect to see any changes in the immediate future.