News Releases

Slow down for manatees migrating to warmer waters

News Release

Monday, November 14, 2011

Media contact: Diane Hirth, 850-410-5291

As winter's chill arrives, cold-sensitive manatees begin migrating to warmer waters. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reminds boaters and personal watercraft operators to slow down and watch out for Florida's official marine mammal.

The lumbering, slow-moving manatees generally start traveling to warm waters when the air drops below 50 degrees or water temperatures dip to 68 degrees. November is also Manatee Awareness Month, and the FWC wants to alert boaters to the slow speed zones now going into effect on the rivers, canals and waterways where manatees travel.

"If you think you see a manatee, please slow down and give the animal plenty of room because it may not be alone. It may have a calf or be traveling with other manatees," said Kipp Frohlich, who leads the FWC's imperiled species management section.

How to spot this aquatic giant? Boaters and personal watercraft operators should scan the water near or in front of their vessels and look for the signs that manatees are close by, including swirls resembling a large footprint, a repetitive line of half-moon swirls, a mud trail, or a snout or fluke (tail) breaking the water's surface.

Other steps that boaters and personal watercraft operators can take to help manatees migrate safely:

  • Keep vessels in marked channels;
  • Wear polarized sunglasses to improve your vision;
  • Obey posted boat speed zones;
  • Use poles, paddles or trolling motors when close to manatees;
  • Have someone help scan the water when under way.

Besides following manatee-safety recommendations, people can help manatees survive by reporting sick, distressed, injured, orphaned or entangled manatees to the FWC's Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or text message Tip@MyFWC.com (standard usage fees may apply). Florida residents also can call #FWC and *FWC via cell phone.

Manatee conservation is supported by Floridians who purchase the state's manatee license plate. Funds from this specialty tag go directly to manatee research and conservation.

Visit MyFWC.com/Manatee or call the FWC at 850-922-4330 for more information.


Winter (manatee-related) boat speed zone changes by county:

Brevard County:

Nov. 15 - March 31

  • No-entry and motorboats-prohibited zones - North Indian River area around discharge canals of the Reliant Corp. Power Plant and Florida Power & Light's Frontenac Power Plant.
  • Idle-speed zone - West of Intracoastal Waterway in general vicinity of power plants.

Broward County:

Nov. 15 - March 31

  • Idle speed - Port Everglades Power Plant area, including part of the discharge canal. Portions of the South New River Canal and Dania Cut-off Canal near the Lauderdale Power Plant.
  • Slow speed - Intracoastal Waterway from the Palm Beach County line through Hillsboro Inlet south to Burnham Point. (Note: some portions are weekend-only slow speed.)

Citrus County:

  • Lower (western) portions of the Withlacoochee River and Bennetts Creek: Sept. 1 - Feb. 28 - 25 mph.
  • Lower (western) portions of the Chassahowitzka River: Sept. 1 - March 31 - 25 mph.
  • Portions of Kings Bay: Sept. 1 - April 30 - Idle speed or slow speed.
  • Portions of the Homosassa River between the Salt River and Trade Winds Marina and southern portion of Halls River: Oct. 1 - April 30 - Slow speed.
  • All waters in the vicinity of the Florida Power Corp.'s effluent canal: Nov. 15 - April 30 - Slow speed.
  • Within the Blue Waters area of the upper Homosassa River near Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park: Nov. 15 - March 31 - No entry.

Dade County:

Nov. 15 - April 30

  • No entry - Portions of the Biscayne Canal, Little River and Coral Gables Canal.
  • Slow speed - Within portions of Meloy (or East) Channel and portions of the Intracoastal Waterway in Dumfoundling Bay and Biscayne Bay between Broad Causeway and Venetian Causeway.

Hillsborough County:

Nov. 15 - March 31

  • No entry - Portions of the discharge canal of the TECO Power Plant in Apollo Beach.
  • Idle speed - General vicinity of the TECO Power Plant in Apollo Beach.

Indian River County:

  • Within Sand and Shell islands area, Channel Marker 66 south to Channel Marker 75; Indian River area from Hobert Lodge Marina to North Canal; and from Channel Marker 156 south to St. Lucie County line west of the Intracoastal Waterway: Nov. 1 - April 30 - Slow speed.
  • Portion of canal system adjacent to Vero Beach Power Plant: Nov. 15 - March 31 - No entry.

Lee County:

Nov. 15 - March 31

  • No entry - Discharge and intake canals of the Florida Power & Light Tice Power Plant.
  • Idle speed and slow speed - Portions of the Intracoastal Waterway channel on the Caloosahatchee River in the vicinity of the Tice Power Plant.
  • 25 mph - Portions of Estero Bay, Hurricane Bay, Hell Peckney Bay and Hendry Creek.
  • Seasonally unregulated - Cayo Costa, North Captiva, Captiva and St. James City areas.

Levy County:

  • Year-round no-entry zone - Manatee Springs State Park (manatee protection).

Palm Beach County:

Nov. 15 - March 31

  • Motorboats prohibited - Within general vicinity of Florida Power & Light Riviera Beach Power Plant discharge canals.
  • Slow speed - Outside the main channel in the Loxahatchee River, and in the north and southwest forks of the Loxahatchee River.
  • Idle-speed and slow-speed zones - Look for shore-to-shore speed zone changes north and south of Peanut Island near the Florida Power & Light Riviera Beach Power Plant.
  • 25 mph - Portions of the Intracoastal Waterway channel between State Road 706 and Lake Worth, and south of Lake Worth to Broward County.

Oct. 1 - May 31

  • 25 mph - Portions of the Intracoastal Waterway channel between State Road 706 and Lake Worth, and south of Lake Worth to Broward County.

Sarasota County:

Nov. 15 - March 15

  • No entry - Portion of Salt Creek and Warm Mineral Springs north of U.S. 41. 

St. Lucie County:

  • Within Moore's Creek: Nov. 15 - March 31 - Motorboats prohibited.
  • Within Garfield Cut/Fish House Cove area: Nov. 15 - April 15 - Slow speed.
  • Within Intracoastal Waterway channel between North Beach Causeway south to Channel Marker 189 and within the Shark Cut Channel in the Fort Pierce Inlet area: Nov. 15 - April 30 - Slow speed.

Volusia County:

Sept. 1 - March 31

  • 25 mph - Portions of the Tomoka River and Spruce Creek.

Oct. 15 - April 15:

  • Blue Spring Run - Motorboats prohibited.
  • St. Johns River, south of Lake Beresford to Channel Marker 67 - Slow speed.

 



FWC Facts:
American eels are catadromous, which means they live in fresh water but go to the sea to spawn.

Learn More at AskFWC