News Releases

Manatees move to find food, area boaters cautioned

News Release

Friday, January 15, 2010

Media contact: Gabriella B. Ferraro, 772-215-9459; Officer Jorge Pino, 561-723-1417

Recent cold fronts have very high numbers of manatees concentrated in warm-water refuges near power plants in Palm Beach and Broward counties.  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) cautions boaters to be on the lookout for manatees moving into the Intracoastal Waterway to feeding areas.  Boaters should slow down and strictly obey posted speed restrictions in manatee protection zones.

"As the weather warms, large numbers of these mammals will be moving out of warm-water refuges and headed toward feeding areas," said FWC law enforcement Capt. David Schaeffer.  "That's when the greatest danger from boat strikes occurs.  This pattern will repeat itself as winter cold fronts come and go."

The FWC and its law enforcement partners will be increasing patrols and strictly enforcing manatee protection zone speed limits to aid the animals during this period when they are most vulnerable to vessel strikes.

To avoid striking manatees, vessel operators should wear polarized sunglasses to help them spot the creatures in the water, and watch for the large, tell-tale circular slicks on the surface of the water (manatee footprints) that indicate the presence of manatees.

For more information on Florida's manatees, visit

To report an injured or dead manatee, please call the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922

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