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Watch Out for Manatees

BROWARD COUNTY, FL - November 15th marked the beginning of manatee season which runs through March 31, 2019. As air and water temperatures drop, manatees begin moving south toward warm-water refuges and seasonal and manatee protection speed limit zones go into effect throughout the State.

Broward County’s Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division implements the County’s manatee conservation program and cautions boaters to be on the lookout for greater numbers of threatened manatees throughout the County’s waterways (including the Intracoastal, canals and natural waterways) during the cooler months. During one manatee season, more than 1,200 manatees were documented in the County’s waterways on a single day; this represents a significant portion of the entire population of manatees in Florida. With colder weather, an area of notable concentration of manatees can be found in or near the Lauderdale Power Plant cooling lakes off the South Fork New River and the Port Everglades Power Plant cooling canal. As the water warms after a particular cold snap, the manatees will move into the surrounding canals and Intracoastal Waterway to forage, thus increasing the chance of manatee/boater interaction. State-wide, 107 manatees were killed by boats in 2017 with 6 of those deaths occurring in Broward County.

Boaters should be aware that, as many seasonal manatee protection zones went into effect on November 15th in Broward and throughout the state, the maximum speed for boats in regulated waterways may differ than what is allowed during the warm weather months. Violators may be fined.

The County’s free “I Spy a Manatee” mobile app launched last year. In addition to allowing users to report sightings of manatees, the app provides maps of the County’s state-regulated manatee protection and boating safety zones, allowing boaters to immediately see what zone(s) they are traveling through by using the location services of the mobile device.

Although manatees are quite large, they can be difficult to see from a boat as they often swim and rest just below the water’s surface. To avoid striking manatees, vessel operators should obey all posted speed limits, wear polarized sunglasses to help them spot the animals in the water, and watch for the large, tell-tale circular slicks on the surface of the water caused by the tail (manatee “footprints”) that indicate the presence of manatees.

If you see a sick, injured, or dead manatee, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Wildlife Alert Number at (888) 404-FWCC (3922), text *FWC or # FWC on a cell phone or email It is very helpful to have the following information:

-           What is the exact location of the animal?

-           Is the manatee alive or dead?

-           How long have you been observing the manatee?

-           What is the approximate size of the manatee?

-           What is the location of the closest public boat ramp to the manatee?

-           A contact number where you can be reached for further information?


DATE: November 19, 2018


Environmental Planning and Community Resilience

PHONE: 954-519-1218