The Manatee Season in Broward County runs November 15th to March 31st
Its that time of year again where our favorite waterway inhabitants begin their annual migration. Manatee season starts in just 3 weeks, which means slower speeds for boaters in our inland waterways and opportunities for residents and visitors to experience encounters with one of our favorite marine mammals. The season runs from November 15th to March 31st every year.
Good news! The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) recently reported that the Florida manatee population has grown to over 6,600 animals today and as a result, in early 2017 the Florida manatee was reclassified from an endangered to a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act. This change in the species status is based on an increasing population and the establishment of effective protection measures to ensure the continued conservation of the species.
The bad news is that manatees in Florida are still threatened. There are various causes for this, but many of the manatee deaths can be attributed to loss of sea grass on the east coast and red tide on the west coast. The FWC lists eight categories of manatee death including watercraft, flood gate/canal lock, other human related, perinatal, cold stress and other natural causes. Since record-keeping began in 1974, more than 41% of manatee deaths where cause of death was identified were human-related – and almost 34% were due to watercraft collisions (the largest known cause of manatee deaths). With increased awareness, education, regulations, and enforcement, manatee deaths caused by humans could be substantially reduced, and the eventual recovery of the species could be realized.
What can you do to help?
Fortunately we have state and local agencies, as well as private non-profits who are dedicated to manatee conservation, but they need the public’s help to be successful.
- Boaters are responsible for far too many manatee deaths every year. Please be mindful of the slow speed zones and keep an eye out for manatees while cruising our inland waterways and along the beaches. For a detailed description of the local manatee zones and boating regulations see the Broward County Manatee Protection Plan
- Report an Injured Manatee. When you see a sick or injured manatee, please report it. Click here for more information on reporting a distressed manatee.
- Adopt a Manatee – Funds from this program go directly to help protect manatees and their habitat.