9 tips to keep manatees safe this spring

ORLANDO, Fla. — In the spring, as water temperatures rise, manatees gradually leave their winter habitats and are more likely to be found in Florida rivers, canals and nearshore waters.

That means it’s important for Floridians to know how to spot the sea cows in the water and how to keep them safe as they lumber through our waterways.


Here are 9 tips you can use to help protect the manatees from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Save the Manatee Club:

1. Look, but don’t touch manatees when you see them in the wild.

2. Avoid excess noise and splashing.

Read: Bats, bears & manatees, oh my: How to enjoy, help conserve Florida wildlife this spring

3. Practice “passive observation” and observe manatees from above water and at a distance.

4. Resist the urge to feed manatees or give them water.

5. Stash your trash. Discard monofilament line, hooks, and other trash properly.

Read: New mosquito species arrives in Florida bringing with it new disease concerns

6. Do not enter designated manatee sanctuaries for any reason.

7. While manatees are large, they can be difficult to see in the water. That is why it is important to: go slow and follow all manatee protection zones; wear polarized glasses and look out below while boating or using personal watercraft.

8. A visible snout or large circles on the water are indicators that manatees are below the surface

Read: Manatee deaths in Florida decline but starvation concerns remain high

9. Physically handling a distressed or stranded manatee can cause additional harm. Report injured, distressed, sick or dead manatees to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) so trained responders can assist.

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.