Florida boaters broke a record this year, killing more manatees in 2019 than in past years, according to wildlife officials.
Boaters hit and killed 129 manatees so far this year, wit 25 of those in Lee County. That tops the previous record of 125 deaths last year.
Brian Norris, FWC Public Information Officer said, “23 “The thing about the watercraft vessel strikes is many of them can be prevented if people would kind of slow down a bit and abide by the manatee zones”
The five-year average was 95 boat-related manatee deaths, according to preliminary data from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The leading cause of death last year for manatees was natural causes, which killed 230.
FWC reports 53 manatees died from cold weather this year.
Boating advocates have pushed back against go-slow speed zones, arguing the reason more are dying may be because there isn’t enough seagrass to feed them.
Boaters should always abide by speed limits in manatee zones and be on the lookout for swirls in the water, which can indicate a manatee. Also, wearing polarized sunglasses can help reduce glare.
Officials with FWC say they will be patrolling manatee zones to make sure people are abiding the laws. Those in violation could receive a citation of at least $88.