Manatees concentrated in Lee County
Recent cold fronts have very high numbers of manatees concentrated in warm-water refuges in the Caloosahatchee River and in other portions of Lee County. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) cautions boaters to be on the lookout for manatees moving into feeding areas in the main channels and to slow down and strictly obey posted speed restrictions in manatee protection zones.
“As the weather warms, large numbers of these mammals will be moving out of warm-water refuges into the main river, Matlacha Pass and other areas to feed. That’s when the greatest danger from boat strikes occurs,” said Capt. Denis Grealish, FWC law enforcement supervisor for Lee and Charlotte counties.
All member agencies of the Lee County Marine Law Enforcement Task Force will be increasing patrols and strictly enforcing manatee protection zone speed limits to aid the animals during this period when they are most vulnerable to vessel strikes.
“To avoid striking manatees, vessel operators should wear polarized sunglasses to help them spot the creatures in the water, and watch for the large, tell-tale circular slicks on the surface of the water (manatee footprints) that indicate the presence of manatees,” said FWC Officer JoAnne Adams.
The best place for the public to view these unusually large concentrations is at Manatee Park, located on State Road 80.
If you would like more information on Florida’s manatees, visit MyFWC.com/manatee/ or call the FWC’s regional office in Lakeland at 863-648-3200.