The Florida manatee has no shortage of problems. It is constantly harassed by boaters, its habitat is quickly shrinking and some people simply don’t give them enough respect. For all these reasons and more, the manatee population is in danger.
Of course, there is still plenty we can do to help them. Here are a few ideas of how you can help protect Florida’s manatees.
Be Careful When Boating
Boating accidents are probably the greatest threat to Florida’s manatees. In fact, up to 30% of manatee deaths in Florida can be attributed to boaters. Fortunately, most of these injuries can be easily prevented through careful and vigilant boating. Here are some things you can do next time you go out for a day on the water:
- Obey the speed limit
- Be aware of designated manatee habitats
- Use propeller guards if you have them
- Avoid seagrass or shallow waterways as much as possible
- Be on the lookout for manatees or signs of manatees
Manatees are slow moving and enjoy the same warm, shallow waters as most boaters. Paying extra attention when boating can make a significant difference in the amount of manatee injuries and deaths that occur.
Protect Their Habitat
Habitat loss is another major threat to Florida’s manatees. As more and more wetlands are lost to housing developments and retail centers, it is more important than ever to protect the remaining manatee habitats we still have. The simplest way you can do this is by cleaning up waterways and removing any trash you see. You can also support organizations that are fighting to protect and restore endangered wetlands.
Like all living creatures, manatees should be treated with respect. When a manatee is put into a stressful situation, it can have a noticeable effect on the animal’s health. Keep the following tips in mind whenever sharing the waters with these docile creatures:
- Do not feed them
- Observe from a distance
- Do not approach or disturb a resting manatee
- Do not separate a calf from its mother
- Do not chase or ride manatees
- Report any deaths or injuries to the proper authorities
There are many organizations out there that exist to protect manatees. One way to support these organizations is to volunteer your time or money. If you are a licensed Florida motorist, you can also purchase a “Save the Manatee” license plate through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and proceeds will be used to support research, protection and education designed to save manatees.
Protecting the Manatees
Whether you are visiting or living in Florida, there are some simple things you can do to protect manatees just by being cautious and aware of your surroundings. You don’t even have to be in Florida to help protect Florida manatees. There are many organizations out there that are always accepting donations.