FWC stepping up their boating patrol to limit the rise in manatee deaths

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Manatee deaths are on track to reach a record number this year, and wildlife officers are stepping in to hopefully decrease the high numbers.

Lee County is one of the leading areas of manatee deaths and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will begin patrolling the waters to limit the incidents that lead to manatee deaths.

Too often boaters are breaking the rules, by speeding in marked areas or boating outside of the designated channels.

‘We are in manatee season, that means anytime a boat goes outside the channel markers, it has to go idle speed,” Captain Justin Paulauskis said.

By the end of May, FWC recorded 19 manatee deaths from boat strikes, which is up from 13 during the previous year.

This rise is causing FWC to amp up their patrolling on the water.

“I do feel any kind of authority presence is going to kind of curb any problems that we have,” Paulauskis said.

Another issue with boats is they destroy the manatees source of food.

“When boat motors run through these seagrass beds, it takes more than 10 years for that seagrass to grow back,” Paulauskis said.

That’s why local marinas educate boat renters before sending them out in rentals.

“We explain on a map, that we give to them before they leave, so they know where they can move up to speed and when they need to slow down,” said the store manager of Fish Tales, Ray Klein.

Besides from being aware of the areas you can and can not boat in, FWC recommends wearing polarized sunglasses so you can spot manatees and other wildlife in the water easier.

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