Because of increased watercraft traffic forecasted this season, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is teaming up with other local Florida agencies helping to protect us endangered manatees. The beautiful waterways in Jacksonville total an amazing 125 square miles. With that amount of water real estate, odds are pretty good that you will encounter a manatee.
Jacksonville Sheriff Officer P.T. Williams explained, “No matter how large or small your vessel is, you can do damage, you can harm the animal, you can injure the animal, you can change their habitats and you can even kill the animal with your vessel.” There were 4 manatee deaths from watercraft in Jacksonville during 2013. In 2014, there were none. What great news! “Not having any manatee deaths this past year is a big step for us in Jacksonville,” Sherriff Williams said.
Officers and agencies want this clean record to continue. They explain it is so important for boaters to be aware of the waterway speed limits when they pass through manatee zones. These zones are always clearly marked with signs and buoys.
Florida Manatees (that’s me!) are a subspecies of the West Indian manatee. We’re currently listed as “endangered” and are at risk from both natural and man-made causes of injury and death. Our exposure to cold stress, red tide, and other diseases are the natural challenges we face each day. The man-made issues facing us are; boat strikes, flood gates (or locks) and also getting caught and tangled up in fishing gear.
If you see any sick or injured manatees, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at: 1-888-404-FWCC. They are the folks who are responsible for rescuing us in Florida. Here is a cool link for you to learn more about how we’re rescued and brought into rehabilitation…
Here’s another awesome link to learn more about manatees…
~ Kobee Manatee