Manatee sightings helping to establish slow speed zone
Thanks to those of you who have sent in photos of West Indian manatee to help the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation build evidence to re-establish a slow speed zone in the San Carlos Bay from Dixie Beach Boulevard to Lighthouse Point.
Lee County accounts for the highest number of boat-caused manatee mortalities in Florida – a sad statistic that will likely only grow with the state’s decision to remove this and other slow speed zones regionally.
The SCCF is coordinating the process of petitioning the state to restore a slow speed zone for the safety of manatees, as well as kayakers and paddleboarders. The process requires a few steps which you can help with:
– Passage of an ordinance by the city of Sanibel creating a manatee protection zone.
– Submission of this ordinance and supporting data showing the presence of manatees in the zone, seagrass habitat, and maps of water depths.
– The final review processes will require signoff from the executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The SCCF is committed to gathering, collecting and presenting data to support the request, as well as building support at the city and state level. Many of you have already reached out to Sanibel City Council members. We encourage you to reach out, specifically, in support of a city ordinance (re)creating the manatee protection zone by emailing all council members at “mailto:email@example.com”>firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additionally, we ask that you help us build a body of evidence by sending manatee sighting reports. When you can, take a picture – but please send us a time, date and location of your sighting to email@example.com. Thanks for your help!
Ryan Orgera is the chief executive officer of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. Founded in 1967, the SCCF is dedicated to the conservation of coastal habitats and aquatic resources on Sanibel and Captiva and in the surrounding watershed.