News Releases

Buy a decal to support manatee, sea turtle programs

News Release

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Media contact: Patricia Behnke, 850-251-2130

It is more important than ever for Florida residents to support Florida's imperiled species. And for two in particular, people can do it simply by donating $5 for a sea turtle or manatee decal. The 2010 decals are now available at your local tax collector's office.

Each year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) offers decals to benefit the manatee and sea turtle programs. New decals are distributed to tax collectors in July and are available throughout the year whenever you make a $5 donation when registering your vehicle or vessel. The funds raised support manatee and sea turtle rescue and recovery efforts, research, management needs and help produce educational materials. The fees collected from the Save the Manatee and the Sea Turtle specialty license plates also help fund these efforts.

The 2010 sea turtle decal displays an image of a green sea turtle and recognizes the groups and volunteers who assisted with the rescue and rehabilitation of cold-stunned sea turtles this past winter.

The winter's cold brought numerous volunteers out to assist local, state and federal biologists and researchers with recovering or rescuing and transporting 4,600 sea turtles to rehabilitation sites. Without the prompt rescue and the involvement of the various government groups and volunteers from around Florida, all of these sea turtles would have died.

In the case of manatees, the harsh winter resulted in an unprecedented number of cold-related deaths and numerous rescues of cold-stressed animals. Nearly 600 manatees have been found dead throughout the state since January, with more than 200 known to have succumbed to cold. Watercraft impacts continue to be an important cause of manatee mortality as well.

"Safe Travels" is the message of the 2010 manatee decal, which stresses the safety measures needed for those traveling in manatee protection zones. The protection zones reduce risks to manatees and their habitat by limiting boat speeds or boat/human access in specific geographic areas where manatees feed, rest and travel. The manatees that survived this winter's extreme cold weather are now dispersed in waterways around the state. Folks using the waterways are cautioned to give a proper lookout when under way so that Florida's manatee population does not suffer more losses this year.

Since April, the FWC's sea turtle and manatee researchers and biologists have been preparing for the possibility of oil impacts on these species. Although no manatees have been affected yet by the oil spill, scientists were concerned about the impact to sea turtle hatchlings as they enter the Gulf and swim directly into the path of the oil. FWC sea turtle experts are working closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA to relocate Northwest Florida nests to the east coast. As the eggs hatch, the hatchlings will be released into the Atlantic Ocean.

Show your support for Florida's manatees and sea turtles by purchasing the decals and license plates and proudly displaying them on your vessels or vehicles. Your support will assist the FWC in the protection and conservation of both sea turtles and manatees.

For more information about Florida's manatee and sea turtle research or management efforts, go to

To report oiled wildlife, call 866-557-1401.

To report wildlife violations or emergencies, call the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

FWC Facts:
If you were born on or after June 1, 1975, you must pass a hunter safety course before you can buy a Florida hunting license.

Learn More at AskFWC