TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) ― Manatees are on the move looking for warmer waters for the winter. State officials are warning boaters that the whiskered marine mammals can pose a hazard.
The Tallahassee Democrat reports that seasonal protection zones for manatees are in effect as of Nov. 15. So far, there have been 91 reported manatee deaths this year from boat strikes, and officials want boaters to slow down and keep an eye out.
The state says efforts to protect the watery beasts have helped. Aerial counts by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission show numbers are up around the state. However, counts by boat have shown a downturn in numbers in Wakulla Springs State Park.
Boaters who slow down have contributed to the animals’ wellbeing, according to Carol Knox of Fish and Wildlife Conservation.