TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Florida’s beloved manatees are on the move looking for warmer waters, and state officials are warning boaters that the whiskered marine mammals can pose a hazard.
Seasonal protection zones for manatees are going into effect on Tuesday, Nov. 15, according to the Tallahassee Democrat reports.
So far there have been 91 reported manatee deaths this year from boat strikes, and officials want boaters to slow down and keep an eye out.
The state says efforts to protect the watery beasts have helped: aerial counts by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission show numbers are up around the state.
But in Wakulla Springs State Park, counts by boat have shown a downturn in numbers there.
Carol Knox of FWC says boaters who slow down have contributed to the animals’ wellbeing.