November is Manatee Awareness Month! The Manatee is Florida’s official state marine mammal. Photo – Courtesy David Schrichte
Greetings! I have some great news for you … November is Manatee Awareness Month! We manatees are endangered marine mammals. We are also warm-blooded and need water temperatures at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit or we could die from the cold! That’s why during the month of November we migrate into Florida’s warm springs and/or the surrounding warm water discharges of Florida’s electric plants so we can avoid the falling water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic ocean.
As an example, the eastern Gulf of Mexico has balmy water temperatures in the mid 80s during July. However, by January these same waters now have an average temperature in the low 60s! Yikes! Manatees cannot tolerate those cold temperatures. As a result, we’ll swim to our favorite winter hangouts of Florida’s warmer interior waters. An example we’ll visit the Manatee Observation Center in Fort Pierce, Florida, or Tampa Electric’s Manatee Viewing Center located in Apollo Beach, Florida, Manatee Lagoon located in West Palm Beach, Florida or Blue Spring State Park located in Orange City, Florida.
Mr. Patrick Rose, Executive Director of Save the Manatee Club says, “Education is really the key to any conservation effort and that’s why we spend so much of our time and resources making people aware of the manatee’s existence and educating them about the threats to manatees and their aquatic habitat. These threats include injury and death from boat collisions, water pollution from excessive nutrients running off lawns and roads, and reductions in spring flows and surface water levels from over-pumping of the aquifer for agriculture and other human consumptive purposes.”
The Save the Manatee Club is an award-winning international, nonprofit organization that was co-founded in 1981 by singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett and the former Governor of Florida, Bob Graham. Mr. Rose continued and said, “Our mission is to protect manatees and their aquatic habitat for future generations. In order to do that, we have a variety of programs, including offering numerous free resources to the public.”
Actually, manatees have no natural enemies … no alligators … no sharks! Unfortunately, I do have to tell you manatees actually have one enemy. And who might that be? It’s sad to say that humans can be a manatee’s enemy because they sometimes create deadly watercraft strikes! It is extremely important that during manatee season in Florida, which runs from November 15th to April 15th, boaters must pay particular attention to manatees surfacing the water to breath. The Save the Manatee Club offers the public free waterway signs, waterway cards, and educational posters. Additionally, shoreline property signs warn boaters to “slow down” for manatees. These signs also display the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission hotline number to report sick and injured manatees (1-888-404-3922).
The Save the Manatee Club also has free materials, which educators can request. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call the club at 1-800-432-5646. And here’s something really cool! You can watch us manatees in our natural habitat on the Club’s webcams at ManaTV.org. The cams are located in the balmy waters of Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Florida. On this website, you can uncover what Mr. Wayne Harley, manatee researcher at Blue Spring is writing about. Wayne has been studying us Blue Spring manatees since 1978!
You can also adopt a manatee who visits Blue Spring for the winter months! Pat Rose explains, “Each adoptive parent learns about the species by following the manatee they’ve adopted through adoption materials and follow-up newsletters. Sometimes the conservation of a species can be overwhelming because there are so many factors involved, along with complicated scientific facts. But adopting a real, living manatee makes it all personal, and people seem to like that a lot.”
So let’s celebrate Manatee Awareness Month together and help spread the word about us manatees – Florida’s official state marine mammal!
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’s the Save the Manatee Club link to learn more about us manatees …
Here’s a cool link for you to learn more about how we’re rescued and brought into rehabilitation …
~ Kobee Manatee