Volunteers at Big Lagoon Park promoting manatee protection
Community outreach volunteers have taken the “Where Seagrasses Grow Manatees Below” campaign to the Big Lagoon State Park boat launch in Pensacola to ensure boaters and jet ski users are aware of the increased number of manatees in the Intracoastal Waterway. The volunteers have been handing out brochures and items such as polarized manatee logo sunglasses and floatable key chains to boat owners and manatee magnets to jet ski users.
For information on reporting manatee sightings and becoming a volunteer to help their survival, go to ppbep.org or email panhandlemanatee.org @gmail.com.
Boat strikes are the leading human-related cause of manatee deaths. Operate with care when traveling through seagrass beds, manatee’s primary habitat. Look for their snouts, shadows in the water, or swirls of smoother water.
Wear polarized sunglasses to reduce glare and improve visibility. Manatees also get entangled or accidently ingest marine debris. Safely dispose of fishing line and anything else that might entangle a manatee.
Manatees are crashing in 2021 like never before. Already, the deaths broke the 2013 record of 830, and have more than doubled the five-year average of 396 deaths, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. And while the rate of deaths seems to have decreased in recent weeks, winter’s yet to come, with countless emaciated, weakened survivors and orphans at large. Stress from cold waters killed an average of 11% of overall deaths over the past five years.