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Manatee deaths from boat strikes approach record

By Staff | Dec 23, 2009

As of Dec. 4, 91 manatees have been killed by watercraft in Florida during 2009, approaching the record of 95 watercraft deaths set in 2002. We could easily break this record in the remaining two weeks of the year, without a commitment from all of Florida’s boaters to help prevent additional deaths.

Anecdotal reports indicate that the economy has changed boating patterns, keeping boaters closer to shore to save money on gas. Concentrating watercraft inshore, in the same waters inhabited by manatees, could help account for the rise in mortalities, but this is not a necessary outcome.

Each and every boater, through careful boating practices and compliance with speed zones, can greatly reduce the number of manatee injuries and deaths from boat strikes. We are calling for boaters to slow down in manatee habitat, obey the posted speed zones, and immediately report manatee injuries to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-3922 so that a timely rescue can be initiated and the manatee can receive life-saving treatment.

Save The Manatee Club also offers boaters and shoreline property owners free boating banners and aluminum dock signs to remind fellow boaters that manatees are present.

The welfare of individual manatees thoroughly depends on boater compliance with posted speed zones. It’s up to all of us to protect manatees from unnecessary deaths caused by a propeller blade or boat hull. It’s a simple call to action that carries life or death consequences for our state’s iconic, endangered marine mammal.

We truly appreciate everybody’s cooperation at this time.