Here are some manatee-friendly boater tips:
Slow down during water activities as much as possible
Always follow posted speed zones
Wear polarized sunglasses
Stay in deep water channels whenever possible
More Tips from Save the Manatee!
A record number of 136 manatees were killed in 2019 due to watercraft injuries in Florida. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has already recorded 30 boat fatalities in 2020.
Though recently downlisted from Endangered to Threatened status, manatees are still federally protected and relatively rare. They face constant dangers from boat strikes, drowning from entanglements, illness from pollution, and cold stress.
The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ Manatee Critical Care Center opened in 2017 and is one of only four similar facilities in the state of Florida. The Zoo’s Marine Mammal Response Team works with the FWC to rescue injured and cold-stunned manatees and transport them to the Center, where they are treated, rehabilitated, and eventually released back into local waters.
“Despite our best efforts, some manatees that arrive at our facility with boat strike injuries don’t make it,” said Craig Miller, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens Curator of Mammals and leader of the Marine Mammal Response Team. “We want to encourage boaters to be as careful as they can in their boating habits, so we can safely share our waterways with these amazing animals for years to come.”
The Center is currently caring for Marion who was rescued on May 18 in the spring run from Salt Springs, Florida after a good samaritan reported her buoyancy issues. She is still on the mend and sharing the Center with Irma and Amelia, two juvenile females transferred from SeaWorld in February that are now growing at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens until they are mature enough to release back into the wild.
Guests can visit the Manatee Critical Care Center along the Wild Florida Loop at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.
The Zoo encourages anyone who sees an injured marine animal, to call the FWC hotline at 1-888-404-3922 or dial *FWC on a cellular device.