Save the Manatee Club Celebrates Labor Day and International Manatee Day
Human activities both on and in the water can impact wild manatees in Florida and across the globe.
Save the Manatee Club (SMC) is encouraging individuals to help manatees both at home and abroad as they celebrate Labor Day weekend and mark International Manatee Day on September 7th.
In Florida, SMC encourages anyone who will be enjoying the state’s waterways over the holiday weekend to “mind their manatee manners” by boating responsibly and taking care to give wild manatees their space while in the water. Encounters with watercraft remain a major cause of manatee injuries and deaths, and nearly every living manatee bears scars from encounters with propellers.
Manatees can also be negatively impacted by other encounters with humans, such as touching, chasing, or interfering with mating herds. Such activities are considered harassment and are against the law.
To protect manatees on Labor Day weekend and every day, members of the public should follow these guidelines:
- Look but don’t touch. Practice “passive observation” and observe manatees from above water and at a distance;
- When boating: become familiar with and obey posted speed zone signs; wear polarized sunglasses to reduce glare and see below the water’s surface; and learn and look out for telltale signs of manatees in the area, notably a swirl or flat spot on the water that is created by the motion of the manatee’s tail when it dives or swims, or a break in the water created by a manatee’s snout, back, tail, or flipper;
- Do not feed manatees or give them water; and
- When encountering a manatee while in the water, stay at least one body length away.
- Immediately report sick, injured, tagged, or orphaned manatees, or a manatee that is being harassed, to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission by calling 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) or to a local wildlife agency/organization if outside of Florida.
After the long weekend, Save the Manatee Club will celebrate International Manatee Day on September 7th by recognizing conservation work by partner organizations in Africa, the greater Caribbean, and South America.
Recent projects have ranged from combating invasive plants in the critical manatee habitat of Cameroon’s Lake Ossa, rescuing an illegally captured African manatee in Nigeria, supporting the rehabilitation orphaned manatee calves in Mexico and Belize, and conducting genetic studies that indicate Amazonian manatees and West Indian manatees are hybridizing in a shared section of the Amazon River in Brazil. This work is supported in part by donations through Save the Manatee Club’s International Rescue Fund and Amazon Wish List.
“There are manatee species living on three continents, and it truly does take a committed global community to do the work necessary to ensure that manatees and their critical habitats are protected,” said Patrick Rose, an aquatic biologist and Executive Director of Save the Manatee Club. “I am pleased that Save the Manatee Club can support continued conservation efforts led by our international partners, and I encourage everyone who enjoys boating or other recreational activities in Florida’s waterways to look out for and respect wild manatees.
About Save the Manatee Club
Save the Manatee Club was founded in 1981 by singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett and former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham to protect manatees and their aquatic habitat. For more information about manatees and the Club’s efforts, visit savethemanatee.org or call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646).
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