DATE: November 15, 2013
MEDIA CONTACT: Pat Quinn, Ph.D., Broward County
Natural Resources Planning and Management
BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. - The manatee migration season in South Florida begins today, November 15, when manatees begin moving south toward warm water refuges prompting seasonal speed limits to go into effect. Broward County’s Natural Resources Planning and Management Division cautions boaters to be on the lookout for greater numbers of manatees moving into the County’s waterways and any changes to the boating speed zones.
Staff from Natural Resources Planning and Management have counted more than 1,200 manatees in the County’s waterways, which may represent 20 percent of the entire state population of manatees, an endangered species. During very cold spells, the majority of manatees can be found in the warm-water refuges of the Lauderdale Power Plant cooling lakes and Port Everglades Power Plant cooling canal. Manatees are unable to survive long periods of time in water temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit and, as temperatures drop, manatees seek refuge in warmer waters.
During warmer periods, the manatees will move into the surrounding canals and Intracoastal Waterway to forage, thus increasing the chance of manatee and boater interaction. Statewide, 80 manatees were killed by boats in 2012 with three of those deaths occurring in Broward County. Through October 2013, 64 manatees have been killed by boats in Florida, two of those in Broward County.
To avoid striking manatees, vessel operators should obey all posted speed limits, wear polarized sunglasses to help them spot the creatures in the water, and watch for the large, tell-tale circular slicks on the surface of the water (manatee “footprints”) that indicate the presence of manatees.
To report an injured or dead manatee, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.