FWC: Pay those manatees no mind – they’re just doing their thing

To the Editor:

It’s that time of year: Mote Marine Laboratory scientists have started observing manatee mating herds (multiple males trying to mate with a female) around Sarasota’s beaches and inshore waters. The public should always give the manatees plenty of space to ensure safety of both the animals and onlookers.

Often, as the female tries to evade her male suitors, large groups of up to 20 or more manatees will end up in shallow waters and along beaches. This normal behavior is not cause for alarm. Please remember, manatees are a threatened species and are protected under state and federal laws, so it is important to respect them. Boaters and beachgoers should view the manatees from a distance and never approach them. Manatees can weigh more than 1,000 pounds, and people can be seriously injured by a thrashing manatee.

Please report sightings of manatee mating herds to Mote’s Manatee Research Program hotline, (941) 388-4441, ext. 379. Please leave your name, number, location of herd (channel marker or nearest business/home address), and time of sighting. Please leave messages on this hotline for healthy manatees only. If you see a sick, injured, stranded or dead manatee, dolphin, whale or sea turtle within Sarasota or Manatee county waters, please call Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program at (941) 988-0212. Outside this area, please call FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

Stephanie Kettle
Haley Rutger
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium