A Florida-based corporation, EarthNC, through their conservation venture Conserve.IO, has teamed up with Save the Manatee Club to help boaters reduce the chance of hitting and harming manatees in Florida waterways, with the free Manatee Alert App.
This smart phone-based map displays instructive visual alerts, notifying boaters when they are approaching manatee speed zones. It also helps facilitate the reporting of injured manatees and manatee harassment to the proper authorities to ensure urgent help where needed.
“The new Manatee Alert App is a good example of how smart-phone technology can help the public become better informed, help protect an endangered species, and contribute to preserving our environment,” said Brad Winney, of Conserve.IO., in a press release. “With the majority of the public now having some form of smart-phone or tablet, applications like Manatee Alert can provide safety and conservation messages in real-time.”
During the busy Labor Day weekend and throughout the year, manatees are especially vulnerable to the heavy boat traffic moving through the waterways in every direction. Florida’s manatees have already suffered a catastrophic year due to a prolonged red tide event in southwest Florida and an unknown toxin in the Indian River Lagoon. There have been 717 manatee deaths from all causes so far since Aug. 9, 2013, which is higher than any previous year’s total mortality, with exception of the cold stress mortality event in 2010. At the current rate, the mortality for 2013 will likely break all previous yearly mortality records since record keeping began.
In addition to these complex events, boat collisions continue to pose a serious long-term threat to the manatee population.
“Since many manatees inhabiting Florida waters bear the scars from past encounters with boats, use of the Manatee Alert App can go a long way toward preventing such injuries and deaths,” said Katie Tripp, Save the Manatee Club’s director of science and conservation.
Tripp is excited about the new app’s ability to help boaters help manatees.
“People from all over the world vacation in Florida and many recreate on Florida waters,” she said.
The Florida boating community is encouraged to get the free Manatee Alert App as well as Save the Manatee Club’s free public awareness materials to help prevent manatee injuries, suffering, and death. Waterproof boating banners, dock signs for Florida shoreline property owners, boating decals, and waterway cards containing safe boating information, are available by contacting Save the Manatee Club at email@example.com, by regular mail at 500 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland, FL 32751, by calling 800-432-5646 or visiting www.savethemanatee.org/boatertips.htm.