Brevard, Volusia boaters: Manatees leaving warm-water refuges in large numbers
Friday, March 19, 2010
Media contact: Joy Hill, 352-258-3426
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) cautions boaters in Brevard and Volusia counties
to be on the lookout for manatees moving from warm-water refuges
into feeding areas.
Manatees have started migrating northward from
South Florida in the Intracoastal Waterway. Large numbers
will be traveling through Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian
River and Brevard counties during their spring migration.
At least 1,000 manatees were counted during aerial
surveys of Brevard County this winter, with the highest numbers at
the Florida Power and Light power plant at Port St. John and
smaller aggregations in canals off the southern Banana River and
the Sebastian River.
As the weather warms, large numbers of manatees are
traveling to seagrass beds and other near-shore areas throughout
the county's waterways, especially in the northern Indian River and
the Banana River. Many migrants from South Florida will also
arrive in Brevard over the coming weeks, further increasing the
local manatee population.
Boaters should slow down and strictly obey posted
speed restrictions in manatee protection zones.
"The greatest danger of boat strikes to manatees
occurs when high concentrations of these mammals move out of
warm-water refuges and head toward feeding areas. Boaters should
use extreme care as this pattern develops," said Capt. Steve Wayne,
FWC law enforcement supervisor for Brevard, Osceola and Indian
All marine law enforcement task force member
agencies will increase patrols and strictly enforce
manatee-protection-zone speed limits to aid the animals during this
period when they are most vulnerable to vessel strikes.
"To avoid striking manatees, vessel operators
should wear polarized sunglasses to help them spot the creatures in
the water, and watch for the large, tell-tale circular slicks on
the surface of the water, which are called manatee footprints, and
indicate the presence of manatees," said Capt Chris Roszkowiak, FWC
law enforcement supervisor for Volusia, Orange and Seminole
If you would like more information on Florida's
manatees, including manatee protection zone information for each
county, visit MyFWC.com/Manatee or call the FWC's regional office
in Ocala at 352-732-1225.
To report a dead or distressed manatee, call the
FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).