Manatees urgently need our help
Although there isn't one simple solution, there are powerful steps we can all take to help florida manatees.
- Call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Wildlife Alert toll-free number: 1-888-404-FWCC (1-888-404-3922) or #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone if you see a sick, injured, dead or tagged manatee.
- Boaters will find manatees easier to spot by wearing polarized sunglasses and keeping a lookout for signs of manatees. Signs to watch for include the circular "footprints" they trace on the top of the water, or their snouts sticking up out of the water.
- Practice passive observation: look, but don't touch manatees. Keep your distance when boating, even if you are steering a canoe, kayak or paddleboard. Be a good role model for others so that they can learn how to watch and enjoy manatees without disturbing the animals.
- The plate you buy matters; support FWC manatee rescues and research. Next time you renew your tag, consider a "Save the Manatee" license plate!
- Help reduce pollution and prevent harmful algal blooms from forming. Too many yard chemicals, including fertilizer and herbicides, are entering our waterways, causing algal blooms that kill seagrasses and harm manatees.
- Don't feed or give manatees water. Giving food or water to manatees is illegal and teaches them to associate people and/or boats with handouts, which changes their behavior and puts them in harm's way. Any "feeding events" on social media have not been approved by state or federal government.
- Be seagrass safe! Prevent damage to seagrasses by avoiding boating over seagrass beds. If you must boat over seagrass beds, trim up your motor and idle to a safe depth before getting on plane, and carefully push your boat away if you run away.
- Participate in beach and waterway cleanups and other events to help protect the manatee's aquatic habitat. You can find some on the Save the Manatee Club's Upcoming Events page.
Here are some tips to help you love your lawn and manatees, too:
- Fertilize less, or not at all. Get to know your yard's fertilizer needs. Many established landscapes may not need fertilizer. Problems may be caused by other issue such as thatch build up, iron deficiency, or overwatering. Your local UF-IFAS Extension Office can assist with soil tests, plant recommendations, and specific lawn questions.
- Know your local fertilizer regulations. When in doubt, if you must use fertilizer, apply slow-release nitrogen fertilizers to your lawn only once per year.
- Follow Florida Friendly Landscaping™ principles. If you live near a water body, leave at least a 10-foot buffer along the shoreline where no fertilizing occurs. If you hire landscape professionals, they should be certified in best management practices and have their Limited Urban Commercial Applicator Certificate. Look for certified professionals here.
Learn more tips to reduce lagoon pollution from our conservation partners:
- Marine Resources Council - Tips for Reducing Lagoon Pollution
- Southwest Florida Water Management District - Florida-Friendly Fertilizing
- Tampa Bay Estuary Program - Be Floridian