Cooler weather means more manatee sightings in SWFL waters

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson

The cooler weather has manatees searching for warmer water and that means you could see them heading up the Caloosahatchee River.

Florida Fish and Wildlife is reminding boaters to use caution and to follow posted speed limits. And keeping an eye out for manatees is especially important after this year’s red tide.

It’s been a very deadly year for the gentle giant with 741 manatee deaths in 2018, the third highest year on record according to FWC.

A direct impact John Mertz is seeing this November. He took a time lapse of his canal in Cape Coral. He says up to 80 manatees migrate here during cooler months.

“This year with the cold fronts already coming through we should be seeing 30 or 40 manatees and this year at best I’ve maybe counted 15 or 20,” he said.

Red tide is the suspected killer for nearly 200 of the threatened species. Another contributor to the rising death toll is boaters in our waterways.

“You just can’t see them in time unfortunately because you just can’t notice them right above or below the water,” said Natalie Morris of Bokeelia.

So that means it’s imperative that people pay attention. Here is what to look out for:

“Big round swirls in the water, that’s going to be their tail fins hitting the top of the water,” Mertz said.

FWC is reminding boaters to slow down and keep an eye out for designated manatee zones.

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