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Manatee Educational Plans and Signs

Boat Facility Manatee Educational Plans and Signs

Boats at a marina
"Cation: Boaters" sign posted at marina

During the State permitting process, FWC makes recommendations to the State regulatory agencies regarding new or expanding boating facilities in areas of Florida where manatees are often seen. These facilities are required by State law to offset adverse impacts to manatees expected with increased boat traffic, and manatee awareness education is a common conservation measure typically required in State permits. Education is most often accomplished using manatee educational signs; however, some projects may require additional educational materials depending upon the size and location of the boating facility. This set of educational materials (signs, brochures, maps, videos, etc.) is referred to as a manatee educational plan, and FWC manatee program staff are available to assist developing these plans in order to meet permit requirements.

Information needed for FWC review

If your facility has a State permit condition that requires manatee signs or an educational plan, please contact staff at ImperiledSpecies@myfwc.com to request FWC approval of your proposed sign or education plan. Please follow the guidelines below when submitting your information for FWC review. Your proposal must include the following information:

  1. a detailed upland project site plan with proposed sign locations, types, and proposed numbers of manatee signs, including which way the signs are proposed to face
  2. the project address or a location map of the facility in relation to waterways
  3. the project permit or submerged lands lease number
  4. your name, email address, mailing address and a phone number
  5. a list of any other educational materials you propose for your facility.

Manatee Educational Plans

Manatee Educational Requirements is a handout with a list of the potential resource materials that are available for boat facilities and may be required by permit or lease. This list can be used by applicants to help propose their educational plan to FWC for approval. Depending upon the project, more customized education may be needed. Additional brochures can be found on the Brochure Page.

Manatee Educational Signs

"Florida Friendly Boating" sign posted at marina
Old "Cation: Manatee Area" manatee educational sign

Manatee educational signs are non-regulatory and informational in nature, unlike manatee speed zone (regulatory) signs seen in some waterways of Florida. Some manatee signs are posted permanently for educational purposes at boat facilities, while others are used temporarily while in-water work is being performed that might pose a risk to manatees.

Guidelines for the installation of permanent educational signs

  • Place in a prominent location for maximum visibility. Areas with high patron foot traffic are recommended, such as: when walking out onto a dock walkway, dock master offices, near restrooms, etc.
  • Replace when faded, damaged or outdated.
  • Multiple signs should be installed if the facility is large or has multiple docks with separate walkways that are a considerable distance apart.
  • Must not face the water, and must never be attached to pilings or navigational markers in the water. Note: One exception to signs facing the water are for temporary awareness signs during in-water work, such as the “Caution Boaters” or “Idle Speed while in work area” signs. 

Manatee Educational Sign Information

"Cation: Boaters" manatee educational sign

The FWC designs manatee educational signs to fulfill state permit or lease conditions. Sign companies should be contacted directly to arrange for shipping and billing of the signs. There are a number of sign companies known to FWC that regularly produce manatee signs, and this list can be seen at the following link: Manatee Sign Vendors.

Sign designs other than those depicted on this page may be created, but must be pre-approved by FWC’s Imperiled Species Management Section in order to be considered appropriate for fulfilling permit requirements. 

Sign Specifications

For durability, all signs should be:

    • Fiberglass or metal with rounded corners (hand-sanded to remove all sharp edges and burrs)
    • Constructed of 0.08 Gauge 5052-H38 Aluminum
    • Have an Alodine 1200 conversion coating and
    • Have Engineer Grade Type I reflective sheeting

Signs constructed to other specifications may not provide durability acceptable to the consumer. The size and type of signs required by permit or lease may vary from those depicted in this guide. If you have any questions, please contact FWC at ImperiledSpecies@myfwc.com.

FWC-approved Signs

The following signs are FWC-approved for fulfilling State permit requirements. Sign companies not on the known vendor list can produce the FWC-approved signs (images below) by downloading these Adobe files:

"Florida Friendly Boating" manatee educational sign

Florida Friendly Boating 2009

This sign is considered the manatee educational sign. Replaces the older "Manatee Basics for Boaters" sign.

Minimum size should be 30" tall x 36" wide with rounded corners.

"Cation: Boaters" manatee educational sign

Caution Boaters 2009

This sign is required as part of the standard manatee construction conditions and is intended to be placed near dredge, tugboat, and work boat operators.

Minimum size should be 8 1/2" tall x 11" wide with rounded corners.

"Recycle Monofilament" manatee educational sign

Entanglement 2010 (English Only)

Entanglement (English/Spanish 2015)

This entanglement sign is typically placed near recycling bins or trash containers.

Minimum size should be 15" tall x 12" wide with rounded corners.

"Idle Speed, No Wake" manatee educational sign

Caution: Shut Down 2009

This sign is required as part of the standard manatee construction conditions and is intended to be placed near dredge, tugboat, and work boat operators.

Minimum size should be 8 1/2" tall x 11" wide with rounded corners.

Related Links

Sign that reads "Slow Speed, Manatee Area, November 15th to March 31st"

Manatee Sign Vendors – Sign vendors who have asked to be on the FWC known sign vendor list for manatee educational signs. These companies have sent examples to FWC for confirmation of sign quality prior to being listed.

Regulatory waterway signs are official U.S. Coast Guard and FWC approved speed zone or navigational signs posted on waterways and may not be installed by a private citizen. To report missing or damaged signs, or for more information regarding sign posting for manatee protection speed zones, contact FWC's Division of Law Enforcement - Boating and Waterways Section at 1-866-405-BUOY (2869) or submit a report electronically.