Watch Out for Manatees this Labor Day Weekend;
Did You Know Sept. 7th is International Manatee Day?
The Labor Day holiday weekend is typically a busy boating weekend on Florida’s waterways. Save the Manatee Club reminds the public of its free boating banners, signs, posters, decals, and other materials available to increase boater awareness and help keep manatees safe. Requesting the materials from the Club is a way to support and celebrate the conservation of manatees and their habitat during International Manatee Day on September 7th.
Manatees continue to experience unnecessary levels of watercraft-related injury and death in 2017, following last year’s reported record of 104 manatee deaths caused by watercraft. Just in the past few weeks, there have been a number of manatee deaths caused by watercraft in Florida. Save the Manatee Club recognizes that most boaters are responsible and encourages the boating community to please slow down in manatee habitat and obey posted speed regulations, as this is the best way to reduce the risk of watercraft-related manatee injuries and deaths.
Save the Manatee Club produces and distributes thousands of bright yellow public awareness banners to Florida boaters with the message, “Please Slow, Manatees Below.” Participating boaters hold aloft the banners when they sight a manatee to warn other boaters that manatees are in the area. Weatherproof boat decals with the number for reporting injured, orphaned, or harassed manatees, and laminated waterway cards, which feature boating speed zones on one side, and tips for spotting and protecting manatees on the other, are also available. The waterway card information is also translated into French, Spanish, and German. In addition, the Club provides shoreline property owners with public awareness aluminum dock signs that let boaters know manatees have been sighted in the waterway.
“Besides increasing our conservation efforts in the U.S., Save the Manatee Club continues to support and expand education and conservation efforts in other countries including projects in Belize with orphaned manatees, as well as programs in Nigeria, Gabon, Senegal, Brazil, Columbia, the Bahamas, Cuba, Mexico, and Costa Rica,” said Patrick Rose, the Club’s Executive Director. Funds contributed to the Club’s International Rescue Fund “assist our many partners across the globe,” explains Rose.
Save the Manatee Club, an award-winning, international nonprofit organization, was established in 1981 by singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett and former U.S. Senator and Florida Governor Bob Graham to protect manatees and their aquatic habitat for future generations.
Over the last 44 years, since researchers have been tracking the number and causes of manatee deaths, thousands of manatees have died from human activity. Historically, the largest known cause of these deaths has been from collisions with watercraft. Many have also died from cold stress due to Florida’s severe, prolonged cold snaps. Many manatees die from red tide outbreaks and from pollutants that find their way from septic tanks and uplands to our water bodies. With increased public awareness, enforcement of existing boating regulations, and the adoption of additional protective measures where needed, manatee deaths and injuries from boat strikes could be reduced. Further, increasing habitat protection, including: setting sufficient standards to reduce pollution in the waterways; adopting water withdrawal limits that conserve the aquifers, springs, and surface waters; and protecting the manatee’s winter warm-water habitat, can help ensure manatees survive into the future.
Send requests for the Club’s free waterway signage, boater banners, and boater safety kit with boat decal and waterway tips card via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling toll free at 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).
For more information on manatees, the Adopt-A-Manatee® program, and the International Rescue Fund, visit savethemanatee.org. Also, look for “Manatee Protection Tips for Boaters” at savethemanatee.org/boatertips.