Lee County boaters urged to watch for manatees
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Media contact: Kevin Baxter, 727-896-8626
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) urges boaters in Lee County to be on the lookout for manatees. As manatees are on the move in and around the Caloosahatchee River, and with a red tide bloom continuing in southwest Florida this week, boaters are asked to slow down and strictly obey posted speed restrictions in manatee protection zones.
“Manatees have been on the move as of late, and with mild temperatures leading to increased boat traffic, we want to remind boaters to be vigilant,” said Capt. Guy Carpenter, FWC law enforcement supervisor for Lee and Charlotte counties. “We ask that boaters scan the water around their vessels for signs of manatees and proceed with caution in areas where manatees may be present.”
Boaters are also urged to wear polarized sunglasses. Signs of manatees in the water include repetitive swirl patterns called a manatee footprint, a mud trail or a snout or fluke (tail) breaking the water’s surface.
The ongoing red tide bloom in the area can affect the health and behavior of some manatees and may make them more vulnerable to being struck by watercraft. Signs that a manatee is affected by red tide include a lack of coordination and stability in the water, muscle twitches or seizures and difficulty lifting its head to breathe.
The public is asked to report manatees exhibiting these symptoms, and any distressed or dead manatees, through the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).