Manatees have long been a part of the Florida ecosystem. Scientists have even discovered fossils in Florida from ancient relatives of the manatee dating back more than 45 million years.
Unfortunately, manatees are currently an endangered species. Even with laws in place to protect the species, they face threats of accidentally being hit by motorboats or becoming entangled in fishing nets.
The best way to help save our gentle giants is to be aware of your surroundings. Boat owners can help reduce the risk of hitting manatees by respecting No Wake Zones and Manatee Zones. Boaters should try to stay in deep water channels and avoid boating over shallow seagrass beds where manatees like to feed. Other ways boaters can protect manatees include wearing polarized sunglasses to help see manatees and other wildlife, using propeller guards and donating to manatee protection by purchasing a manatee decal when registering for a boating license.
If you do happen upon a manatee when out on the water, remember to maintain a safe distance of at least 50 feet and cut your motor if nearby!
The next Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition begins January 10th and will traverse the heart of springs country, where many manatees gather in winter months. To learn more about the Florida Wildlife Corridor and the Expedition route, please visit our website at www.floridawildlifecorridor.org.