Buy a decal to support manatee, sea turtle programs
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Media contact: Patricia Behnke, 850-251-2130
It is more important than ever for Florida
residents to support Florida's imperiled species. And for two in
particular, people can do it simply by donating $5 for a sea turtle
or manatee decal. The 2010 decals are now available at your local
tax collector's office.
Each year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission (FWC) offers decals to benefit the manatee
and sea turtle programs. New decals are distributed to tax
collectors in July and are available throughout the year whenever
you make a $5 donation when registering your vehicle or vessel. The
funds raised support manatee and sea turtle rescue and recovery
efforts, research, management needs and help produce educational
materials. The fees collected from the Save the Manatee and the Sea
Turtle specialty license plates also help fund these efforts.
The 2010 sea turtle decal displays an image of a
green sea turtle and recognizes the groups and volunteers who
assisted with the rescue and rehabilitation of cold-stunned sea
turtles this past winter.
The winter's cold brought numerous volunteers out
to assist local, state and federal biologists and researchers with
recovering or rescuing and transporting 4,600 sea turtles to
rehabilitation sites. Without the prompt rescue and the involvement
of the various government groups and volunteers from around
Florida, all of these sea turtles would have died.
In the case of manatees, the harsh winter resulted
in an unprecedented number of cold-related deaths and numerous
rescues of cold-stressed animals. Nearly 600 manatees have been
found dead throughout the state since January, with more than 200
known to have succumbed to cold. Watercraft impacts continue to be
an important cause of manatee mortality as well.
"Safe Travels" is the message of the 2010 manatee
decal, which stresses the safety measures needed for those
traveling in manatee protection zones. The protection zones reduce
risks to manatees and their habitat by limiting boat speeds or
boat/human access in specific geographic areas where manatees feed,
rest and travel. The manatees that survived this winter's extreme
cold weather are now dispersed in waterways around the state. Folks
using the waterways are cautioned to give a proper lookout when
under way so that Florida's manatee population does not suffer more
losses this year.
Since April, the FWC's sea turtle and manatee
researchers and biologists have been preparing for the possibility
of oil impacts on these species. Although no manatees have been
affected yet by the oil spill, scientists were concerned about the
impact to sea turtle hatchlings as they enter the Gulf and swim
directly into the path of the oil. FWC sea turtle experts are
working closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA to
relocate Northwest Florida nests to the east coast. As the eggs
hatch, the hatchlings will be released into the Atlantic Ocean.
Show your support for Florida's manatees and sea
turtles by purchasing the decals and license plates and proudly
displaying them on your vessels or vehicles. Your support will
assist the FWC in the protection and conservation of both sea
turtles and manatees.
For more information about Florida's manatee and
sea turtle research or management efforts, go to MyFWC.com.
To report oiled wildlife, call 866-557-1401.
To report wildlife violations or emergencies, call
the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).