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Save the Manatee Club celebrates Labor Day and International Manatee Day by raising awareness locally and globally

An orphan manatee calf named Pompeyo being fed a milk replacement formula through a bottle.

Together we can help protect and advocate for wild manatees in Florida and across the globe

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE— August 30, 2023
Contact: media@savethemanatee.org, 407-539-0990

LONGWOOD, FL—Save the Manatee Club (SMC) is encouraging individuals to help manatees both at home and abroad as they celebrate Labor Day weekend and mark International Manatee Day on September 7.

Holiday weekends are always popular for boating and recreating on or near the water. In Florida, SMC encourages anyone who will be enjoying the state’s waterways over the holiday weekend to be mindful of manatees when boating and take care to give wild manatees their space while in the water. Encounters with watercraft remain a major cause of manatee injuries and deaths, and over 90% of manatees bear scars from encounters with watercraft. While the overall death toll this year seems down from the previous two exceedingly high mortality years, boat strikes are once again on the rise and have so far resulted in at least 70 watercraft-related deaths and 20 rescues this year.

Manatees can also be negatively impacted by other encounters with humans, such as touching, chasing, or interfering with mating herds. Such activities are considered harassment and are against the law. To protect manatees on Labor Day weekend and every day, members of the public should follow these guidelines:

  • Look but don’t touch. Practice “passive observation” and observe manatees from above water and at a distance.
  • When boating: become familiar with and obey posted speed zone signs; wear polarized sunglasses to reduce glare and see below the water’s surface; and learn and look for telltale signs of manatees in the area, notably a swirl or flat spot on the water that is created by the motion of the manatee’s tail when it dives or swims, or a break in the water created by a manatee’s snout, back, tail, or flipper.
  • Do not feed manatees or give them water.
  • When encountering a manatee while in the water, stay at least one human body length away.
  • Immediately report sick, injured, tagged, or orphaned manatees, or a manatee that is being harassed, to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission by calling 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) or to a local wildlife agency/organization if outside of Florida.

Following the long weekend, Save the Manatee Club will celebrate International Manatee Day on September 7th by recognizing conservation work by partner organizations in Africa, the greater Caribbean, and North, Central, and South America.

Recent projects include funding assistance for our partners at the Rainforest Awareness Rescue Education Center in Peru and at the Fundación Internacional para la Naturaleza y la Sustentabilidad in Mexico to help care for an orphaned calf, as well as continuing our decade-long support of Wildtracks, the only manatee rehabilitation center in Belize. This work is supported in part by donations through Save the Manatee Club’s International Rescue Fund and Amazon Wish List.

“While our primary focus is on protecting manatees and their aquatic habitat here in Florida and the Southeastern US, we strive to support our global partners and manatees wherever our help is needed the most,” said Patrick Rose, an aquatic biologist and Executive Director of Save the Manatee Club. “I want to thank all the responsible and caring boaters for keeping an extra eye out for manatees over the holiday weekend and encourage all waterway users to watch for manatees and report distressed manatees so every manatee can receive the help they need.”

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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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