Citizen Alert: Be on the Lookout for Manatees

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A recent northern manatee sighting in the Chesapeake Bay area is a reminder to residents living along the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico to watch for manatees and report any sightings to their local wildlife officials. Busy summer boating traffic is a major concern, as collisions with boats pose serious threats to the slow-moving and endangered marine mammals.

“The recent manatee sighting highlights the importance of public involvement in locating wayward manatees and quickly reporting this information to the proper authorities,” said biologist Patrick Rose, Executive Director of Save the Manatee Club.

In the summer months, manatees roam freely around Florida’s rivers and coastal waters. However, a few manatees will sometimes travel outside of the Sunshine State. There have been sightings as far west as Texas and as far north as Massachusetts. While manatees in Florida are protected in many coastal areas by posted speed zones, these “manatee zones” do not exist out of state, so the boating community in coastal areas outside of Florida is reminded to be extra vigilant this summer.

“Slow down if a manatee is spotted and report it at once,” said Rose. “Do not touch or feed it as this could disrupt its natural behavior in the wild.”

“Citizens should be prepared to report the number of manatees observed; the physical location of the manatees, with reference to any nearby landmarks; and a general description of the size and behavior of the manatee, said Dr. Katie Tripp, Director of Science and Conservation of Save the Manatee Club. If possible, photos of the manatees, particularly clear photos of any scars or injuries, should be taken as these photos help biologists identify individual manatees.”