News Releases

Hundreds of manatees on the move in Palm Beach, Broward counties; boaters cautioned

News Release

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Media contact: Gabriella B. Ferraro, 772-215-9459

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) cautions Palm Beach and Broward county boaters to be on the lookout for manatees moving to and from warm-water refuges, particularly area power plants. Boaters should slow down and strictly obey posted speed restrictions in manatee-protection zones.

A recent aerial survey noted more than 800 manatees in the waters of Palm Beach County, most around Florida Power and Light's Riviera Beach Power Plant and the Port of Palm Beach, but some small groups were traveling in the Intracoastal Waterway. This is the largest number of manatees counted in a single aerial survey in Palm Beach County.

More than 900 manatees were observed in aerial surveys conducted recently in Broward County. These manatees are congregating primarily around FPL's two power plants: Port Everglades and Lauderdale.

The FWC urges boaters to take special care to avoid coming close to these marine mammals that are already stressed because of the cold snap. FWC law enforcement officers have increased patrols and are strictly enforcing 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 (manatee footprints) that indicate the presence of manatees.

To report a distressed or dead manatee, call the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

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