This is the time of year when manatees head for the warm waters of Florida, and the Save the Manatee Club reminds people to avoid them if you see them.
The club says it can be tempting to give them food and water. It is illegal to do that, to harass them or to harm them.
Save the Manatee Club executive director Patrick Rose says feeding manatees could encourage them to seek more handouts instead of continuing their journey to warmer waters.
“It can be detrimental if the temperature drops too quickly and the manatee has not reached the hot water in time,” he said in a statement.
Rose goes on to say that when manatees are fed by humans, they are more likely to approach boats or docks while waiting for food and this could lead to injury, death or harassment.
There is a problem with seagrass beds disappearing, making it difficult for manatees to find the food they need, but Rose says government agencies are working to determine if human interaction is needed to help them survive. .
Here is a list of helpful things you can do instead of feeding them or giving them water:
- Report instances of manatee harassment or manatee feeding / watering to local wildlife officials. Manatees are protected by several federal and state laws, and these actions are punishable by fines and / or imprisonment.
- In Florida, report sick, injured, orphaned, or dead manatees to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) by calling 1-888-404-3922 (FWCC).
- Navigate slowly through posted speed zones and watch for manatee tails, muzzles and “footprints”. Be very careful around hot water refuges such as springs or power stations.
- Protect the seagrass beds and prevent the formation of harmful algae blooms by following the advice of savethemanatee.org/algae.
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