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Outdoors & Recreation
Celebrating a Florida treasure: Manatee Awareness Month
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Photo courtesy PATRICK M. ROSE, SAVE THE MANATEE CLUB
Gov. Rick Scott proclaims November as Manatee Awareness Month.
The manatee, Florida’s official state marine mammal, is an iconic American species, popular around the world.

Gov. Rick Scott’s declaration of November as Manatee Awareness Month in Florida helps heighten public awareness about the importance of protecting Florida’s endangered, beloved manatees. The proclamation is a time-honored tradition undertaken by Florida’s governors to designate the November as Manatee Awareness Month.

“Save the Manatee Club thanks Governor Scott for recognizing the importance of manatees by signing the proclamation,” said Patrick Rose, executive director of Save the Manatee Club. “Since our mission is to protect manatees and their habitat for future generations, we encourage everyone, especially those who enjoy being out on our Florida waters, to keep a close lookout for these amazing marine mammals, not just in November but throughout the year.”

November is also the time of year when manatees are on the move, making their way to important winter warm-water sites in Florida. Since they are a subtropical species, manatees cannot tolerate prolonged exposure to water temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Club reminds boaters that many seasonal manatee zones in Florida are in effect by early November and to pay close attention to posted signage indicating slow or idle speeds, as manatees can be injured or killed by boat strikes and other human activities.

Also, the boating community is urged to please keep their distance from migrating manatees or manatees congregated at warm-water sites during the winter months to avoid disturbing or harassing the manatees. Manatees are listed as endangered at the international, federal and state levels.

The Club offers a variety of ways for the public in Florida to be directly involved with manatee protection. Free public awareness waterway signage, boating banners and decals, waterway cards, and educational posters are produced by the Club.

The bright yellow waterproof banner which boldly cautions, “Please Slow: Manatees Below,” can assist in warning boaters to slow down for manatees who may be present. Shoreline property signs and matching boat decals are also available, featuring the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s hotline number (1-888-404-3922) for reporting sick and injured manatees.

Boater and diver awareness posters are also available to dive shops, marinas, businesses, visitor centers, classrooms and libraries. Family-friendly 2-foot by 3-foot outdoor signs are produced by the Club and distributed to state, municipal, and county parks; marinas; and other sites where human/manatee interactions can be a problem.

Requests for any of these free materials can be sent via email to education@savethemanatee.org or by calling toll free at 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).

“As we celebrate manatees during Manatee Awareness Month, together let’s continue to build better, safer lives for them,” says Rose.

For more information on endangered manatees, the Adopt-A-Manatee program, or to sign up for the Club’s free e-newsletter, visit the Club’s website at www.savethemanatee.org.

Earlier this year, Save the Manatee Club launched live manatee webcams at Blue Spring State Park, making it possible to watch manatees in real time during the winter months. Throughout other months of the year, the public can watch recorded video of manatees and live scenes of Florida wildlife and habitat within the spring run and adjacent St. Johns River. Watch at manatv.org.
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