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Florida Fish and Wildlife Increasing Patrols To Keep Manatees Safe

Credit: David Hinkle  USFWS
Credit: David Hinkle USFWS

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is increasing patrols to areas where there are higher risks of watercraft or boating related manatee deaths.

The move comes after manatee deaths relating to watercraft have reached 89 so far this year, higher than the 5-year average. Rose says this is unusual.

"That’s extraordinarily high," said Pat Rose of the Save the Manatee Club."The two previous total years 2017 - 2018, we set new records for watercraft total mortality in both of those years and then 2018 broke 2017, and now we’re on a pace to break the 2018 record by a very substantial amount.”

Rose believes the high number of deaths this year is partially caused by the increase in boating activity.

Officials patrolling the manatee active and incident prone areas will make sure boaters are adhering to posted boating rules and regulations. Lee, Brevard and Volusia counties currently have the highest watercraft related deaths, based on data from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Boaters should take steps to ensure they are aware of their surroundings and follow speed limits in order to reduce the potential of harming manatees.

Boaters who accidentally hit manatees are encouraged to report the manatees to the Fish and Wildlife Commission at 888-404-3922 without fear of being penalized.

So far this year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife also have reported rescuing 15 manatees from watercraft related incidents.