Stanley Yacht Services: Mind The Manatees!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mind The Manatees!

[UPDATE - April 21, 2011: The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has proposed tighter restrictions to further ensure manatee safety. If enacted, the new regulations would extend weekend speed zones through the remainder of the week during the cold season, when hundreds of manatees migrate to Broward County. The final version of the regulations, if approved, is expected in September. Read more ...]

Safe boating isn't just about you and your boat, of course. So, as we continue this week's safety theme, we'd be remiss if we didn't remind you to mind the manatees!

Manatee [Photo Credit: Jim Reid, USFWS]
If you boat regularly in South Florida, you're no doubt familiar with manatee zone speed limits and other environmental restrictions aimed at protecting these gentle mammals, also known as sea cows (and, perhaps, mermaids). We love spotting manatees on our cruises and their natural curiosity has brought them to our fresh water hose at marinas on more than one occasion. They're quick learners, too, by the way - we had one come back to our boat every day for a week down in Key Biscayne after he figured out we'd turn the hose on for him. We named him Morty. (He probably called us Predictable).

But even as Morty and his kin peacefully and gracefully glide through our waters nibbling on sea grass, boaters put them at risk everyday with irresponsible trash disposal and reckless boating habits. All too often, boat props cause the unsightly mutilation and even death of these shallow water dwellers. It's always disturbing to see a manatee slide by our hull with deep scars on its back or worse, dead, and having to make that call to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (1-888-404-3922) to report it is simply depressing.

If you are new to the area, we encourage you to get some local knowledge - you can even take the FWC's free online course, How To Boat Smart - Florida. Familiarize yourself with designated manatee (and sea grass) zones. Be advised, however, manatees aren't confined to those areas so you should always be on the lookout for them! And be warned: If you injure or otherwise maliciously mess with a manatee, you face punishment under federal law including a fine of up to $50,000, one-year in prison, or both!

So please, obey the signs, slow down, put on your polarized sunglasses and keep an eye out for our flippered friends, especially if you see bubbles on the water's surface - a whiskered snout might be about to come up for air.

Manatees can live for as long as 60 yrs and they're reported to have really good long-term memories ... Do you think Morty will remember us next time we're docked in Key Biscayne? We hope so! And if he lets us, we'll post a pic in our photo gallery!

For smooth sailing and zero stress ... call SYS!™

Related links:
Florida Boating Regulations | Manatees | Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission
Manatee Protection Tips for Boaters | Save The Manatee Club
Columbus mistakes manatees for mermaids | History Channel

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