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Heading Out On The Water? Watch For Manatees.

Manatees 2940

National Safe Boating Week is a perfect reminder to be manatee-safe on the on the water.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—May 7, 2024
Contact: media@savethemanatee.org, 407-539-0990

LONGWOOD, FL—As National Safe Boating Week approaches, Save the Manatee® Club is urging boaters, and anyone that enjoys Florida’s waterways, to respect and protect the defenseless manatees that inhabit our shared waterways. From May 18 to 24, leading up to Memorial Day Weekend, the campaign aims to raise awareness about recreational boating safety and the importance of safeguarding imperiled manatees during the summer boating season. This week also emphasizes the importance of encouraging boaters to enroll in a boating safety course.

Manatees are semi-migratory marine mammals that are commonly found in shallow estuaries, bays, rivers, canals, and coastal areas throughout Florida and neighboring states. With some manatees venturing as far west as Texas and as far north as Massachusetts, collisions between these gentle giants and watercraft have become distressingly frequent. Boat propellers and high-speed collisions pose significant threats to manatees, often resulting in severe injuries or even death.

Save the Manatee Club is calling on all water enthusiasts to follow essential manatee safety tips to ensure the well-being of the imperiled manatee:

  • Obey Speed Zone Signs: Familiarize yourself with and adhere to posted speed limits to prevent collisions with manatees.
  • Reduce Glare with Polarized Sunglasses: Wear polarized sunglasses to enhance visibility and spot manatees below the water’s surface.
  • Recognize Manatee Signs: Learn to identify signs of manatees in the area, such as swirls or flat spots on the water caused by their movements.
  • Respect Manatee Sanctuaries: Keep a safe distance from posted manatee sanctuaries and avoid pursuing or harassing these marine mammals, as it is illegal and can disrupt their natural behaviors.
  • Report Distressed Manatees: In Florida, promptly report distressed, injured, tagged, or orphaned manatees to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922). Outside of Florida, report sightings to the appropriate state agency or rescue organization. A list of agencies to contact is available at savethemanatee.org/report.
  • Protect Seagrass Beds: Avoid boating over seagrass beds and shallow areas where manatees may be feeding. Stick to deep water channels while remaining vigilant, as manatees also utilize these channels during their travels.
  • Dispose of Fishing Line Responsibly: Anglers should properly dispose of or recycle used fishing line to prevent entanglement hazards for manatees.

 “Each year, National Safe Boating Week provides an excellent reminder for all of us to be aware that we share our waterways with vulnerable manatees,” emphasized Patrick Rose, Aquatic Biologist and Executive Director of Save the Manatee Club. “With the recent Unusual Mortality Event on Florida’s East Coast claiming an alarming number of manatees’ lives, it is more crucial than ever to prevent preventable deaths caused by watercraft collisions. By following manatee-safe boating guidelines, such as obeying speed zones and remaining vigilant for manatees, everyone on the water can contribute to the protection of these gentle giants.”

Save the Manatee Club offers a range of free materials to help safeguard manatees and raise awareness about manatee-safe boating practices. Shoreline property owners and park or marina managers can order aluminum dock signs to alert others about the presence of manatees in their areas. Boaters and paddlers can request packets containing a safety tips card, a waterproof boat banner, and a decal to display on their vessels, providing the number to report manatees in distress. To view and request these materials, visit savethemanatee.org/resources. Save the Manatee Club will also be hosting a live webinar for National Safe Boating Week on Tuesday, May 21st at 6pm EST. To register, visit savethemanatee.org/register.

To kick off summer and National Safe Boating Week, Save the Manatee Club is proud to offer press-ready PSAs (pictured above) in multiple sizes, including full, 1/2, 1/3, and 1/4 page high-resolution PDFs for summer publications. These PSAs emphasize the importance of respecting manatees through passive observation and supporting the conservation efforts of Save the Manatee Club through the Adopt-a-Manatee® program. Our PSAs are customizable to fit any available space.

In addition, we provide audio and video spots featuring the late singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett, a co-founder of Save the Manatee Club. These spots come in lengths of 15, 30, or 60 seconds. We also offer several other 30-second public service announcements addressing various manatee-related issues, including safe boating practices. To access these resources, visit savethemanatee.org/psas. For media inquiries and to receive the files, please email media@savethemanatee.org. For more information about National Safe Boating Week, manatee safety tips, or to request materials, please visit savethemanatee.org or contact Save the Manatee Club at education@savethemanatee.org.

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Save the Manatee Club, established in 1981 by the late renowned singer-songwriter, author, and entrepreneur Jimmy Buffett, along with late former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham, is dedicated to safeguarding manatees and preserving their aquatic habitat. For more information about manatees and the Club’s efforts, visit savethemanatee.org or call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).

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