My Sun Coast

November 01, 2016


Migrating manatees on the move; boaters use caution


SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) – Watch out, Manatees are on the move in Florida!


November marks the beginning of migration season for Florida manatees. As the weather cools, manatees are searching for warmer water to help them survive winter’s cold.

With these bulky aquatic mammals on the move, officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) are reminding people in boats and personal watercrafts to use cation while on the waters.

Boaters are reminded to slow down in shallow areas and seasonal manatee protected zones. The protected zones will be in effect starting Nov. 15 and will be marked.

“Adult manatees weigh about 1,000 pounds but can be difficult to see, especially when just below the water’s surface”, say FWC officials. “Manatees are easier to spot if boaters wear polarized sunglasses and keep a lookout for signs of manatees such as the circular “footprints” they trace on the top of the water.”

In February 2016, the FWC reported 6,250 manatees were counted in an aerial survey of Florida waters. While that is good news, there have been 91 manatee fatalities caused by boat strikes so far in 2016.

“Boaters who slow down and keep a lookout for Florida manatees are an important reason the overall population of this species is doing better,” said Carol Knox, leader of the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management section.

FWC law enforcement officers will be on the water enforcing these seasonal rules to protect manatees in busy boating areas.

The FWC spends about $2 million a year on manatee conservation. This includes research, rescue, management and public education efforts, and works in partnership with agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on manatee issues.

For information about" target="_blank">manatee protection zones by county, go to and click on" target="_blank">“Data and Maps.”

At the bottom of that same page, there also is information on" target="_blank">FWC Manatee COLD-weather changes to speed zones.

Report" target="_blank">sightings of injured, sick or dead manatees to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922, #FWC and *FWC on a cell phone, or with a text to

Want to see a manatee? Go to" target="_blank"> and click on" target="_blank">“Where can I see Manatees?”