Cold temperatures impact Florida fish and wildlife
Thursday, January 07, 2010
Media contact: Carli Segelson, 727-896-8626
The current cold snap is having an effect on some
of Florida's fish and wildlife as temperatures dip below normal.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
continues to monitor the species affected most by the cold and is
prepared to rescue animals when necessary.
The Florida manatee is one species impacted by
extremely cold weather. Exposure to water temperatures below 68
degrees for long periods can cause a condition called manatee
cold-stress syndrome, which can result in death.
When water temperatures drop, manatees gather in
warm-water habitats, such as discharge canals at power plants,
canal systems or springs. The FWC asks boaters to be extra vigilant
in watching for manatees in shallow waters near the coast, both
inland and coastal, and obey all posted manatee speed zone signs.
Enhanced law enforcement patrols will focus on areas experiencing
large congregations of manatees and in manatee regulatory
All boaters, including kayakers and canoers, and
the public in general should avoid areas where large numbers of
manatees are gathered. The aggregated animals should be left alone
because a disturbance could scare them away from the warm-water
sites, which they need to survive during the cold temperatures.
To report a dead or distressed manatee, call the
FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).
Cold weather also can affect sea turtles. When the
water temperature drops, stunned sea turtles may float listlessly
in the water or wash onto shore. Although these turtles may appear
to be dead, they are often still alive. It is important to report
these turtles to the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline as soon as
The FWC, working with the Sea Turtle Stranding and
Salvage Network, recovered more than 250 cold-stunned sea turtles
in Mosquito Lagoon in Brevard County this past week. Sea turtle
rehabilitation facilities throughout the state will house these
animals until they can be released when temperatures warm.
The FWC Fish Kill Hotline has received several
reports of cold-related fish kills over the past few days. Extended
periods of unusually cold weather can kill fish outright by cold
stress or make fish more susceptible to disease. Warm-water
species, including the popular game fish snook, are particularly
vulnerable to cold temperatures. Fish affected by the cold may
appear lethargic and may be seen at the surface where the water may
be warmer from the sun. Recreational regulations still apply with
The FWC monitors fish disease and mortality events
around the state. The FWC asks the public to report dead and dying
fish to the Fish Kill Hotline at 800-636-0511.
All other distressed wildlife may be reported to
the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).