News Releases

Manatees on the move, boaters cautioned to keep sharp lookout

News Release

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Media contact: Gary Morse, 863-648-3200

With the onset of colder weather, large numbers of manatees in Lee County are congregating in warm-water refuges to protect themselves from falling water temperatures. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) cautions boaters to maintain a sharp lookout, slow to idle speed and use extreme caution when manatees are sighted.

Concentrations of these gentle giants are moving up the main channel of the Caloosahatchee River, headed toward the Orange River and local canals. Other areas such as Mullock Creek and Ten Mile Creek also are places manatees are likely to gather. High concentrations of these animals may also be found at the entrances to these waterways.

During cooler months, manatees traveling to and from thermal refuges are particularly vulnerable to collisions with watercraft.

To detect the presence of manatees, boaters should wear polarized sunglasses and look for swirls that resemble huge footprints on the top of the water. A repetitive line of half-moon swirls, a mud trail or any snout or a tail that breaks the surface can indicate the presence of manatees.

"Any area with a warm-water outflow has the potential to harbor manatees and provide protection from the blast of cold air that arrived last week," said Capt. Denis Grealish, FWC law enforcement supervisor for Lee and Charlotte counties.

Injured or sick manatees should be reported to FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

The FWC also reminds boaters that officers will be out in force throughout the area to ensure that vessels are being operated safely and in compliance with manatee protection zone regulations.

Visit for more information on Florida's manatees.

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