Keeping manatees safe while migrating to warmer water

Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:
Manatees trapped in a Whiskey Creek canal. CREDIT: WINK News

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is asking everyone to be aware of a beloved animal that begins migrating to warmer waters in November.

According to the FWC, boaters can injure manatees while they move throughout and around Florida, seeking warmer waters.

Manatees are considered a keystone species. They’re also one of the most well-known and loved animals native to Florida. Officials are giving tips to the public in an effort to avoid injuring any sea cows.

A couple of essential tips include following manatee protection zones while boating. Also, wearing polarized glasses to spot manatee “footprints” at the water’s surface will help to avoid harming the species. These footprints are circular patterns visible at the top of the water. It’s important, regardless of seeing sea cows while on the water or from land, to give them plenty of space to be comfortable.


Some warm-water areas manatees migrate toward include artesian springs and power plant discharge canals.

“Florida is at the northern end of the manatee’s winter range, and these warm-water habitats play an important role in their survival during the winter months,” said FWC.

These are effective tips to avoid harming the animal, which swim within six feet of the water’s surface about 90% of the time. Moreover, about 96% of adult manatees have sublethal scar patterns from boats. Furthermore, oni in four adult sea cows have been struck by a watercraft 10 or more times.


Call the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 if you find an injured, sick, orphaned or dead sea cow.

November is Manatee Awareness Month. There is no better way to take part than following these simple but effective tips to help preserve one of the most well-known native animals in Florida.

FWC’s Florida Manatee Program is one way the state does its part to protect the keystone species.

Click here to learn more ways to help preserve manatees from FWC.

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