Florida Manatee Program


FWC's Manatee Program

The Florida manatee is a native species found in many of Florida’s waterways. First listed as a federal endangered species in 1966, the Florida manatee population has grown to over 6,000 animals today.

In 1975, Florida’s school children helped designate the endangered Florida manatee as Florida’ state marine mammal. Since then, various research, management and educational efforts have occurred to bring back a species that many people thought was on the verge of extinction.

Continued support from thousands of people willing to purchase Save the Manatee specialty license plates or donate funds to the manatee program has allowed the state to develop and administer what was, and is needed for management and research programs that protect and conserve Florida’s manatees for future generations to see and enjoy.

Today, manatees are considered one of Florida’s keystone species whose behavior can alert researchers to the environmental and habitat changes that may otherwise go unnoticed in Florida’s waterways for extended periods of time. Please browse the manatee program web pages to find out more about this unique imperiled species. 

FWC Manatee Management, Research, and Law Enforcement

Florida manatees were first protected through Florida State Law in 1893. Manatees are protected by the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act (§379.2431(2), Florida Statutes) and are federally protected by both the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. FWC continues to protect and conserve manatees and their habitat through programs operated in the:



manatee_waving.jpg Where Can I See Manatees?

During the winter months, manatees head for warm waters, such as springs and energy center discharge canals. For the remainder of the year, manatees are widely dispersed in Florida’s waterways and along the coast.  The following is a list of some of the places where you can see the endangered Florida manatee in captivity or in the wild.

Report a distressed or dead manatee

Wildlife Alert: 888-404-3922
State mobile: #FWC or *FWC
Text to: Tip@MyFWC.com  


Donate $5 to get your manatee decal at Florida Tax Collector offices
2015-2016 Decal: Give Them Space


Manatee Management Plan Adobe PDF
The first Manatee Management Plan was developed and approved in December 2007. Staff are reviewing the plan to develop one for the next five year period and will provide any needed updates.


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North Florida
Field Office

Manatee Related Links Sirenia Project

FWC Facts:
Any facility that rents boats or personal watercraft must display boating safety information where the renting public can see it.

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