Boaters Urged To Watch For Manatees

Apr 24, 2015

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit boat is ready to take off from the Metro Park pier in downtown Jacksonville.
Credit Jessica Palombo / WJCT News

Law enforcement and wildlife officials are reminding boaters to watch out for manatees. A run-in with one of the endangered animals could result in a $25,000 fine.

As the temperature rises in Northeast Florida, so does the level of danger for slow-moving manatees who live in rivers. Sergeant Patricia Grant from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Marine Unit says boaters have been doing a good job recently of observing speed limits.

“I am happy to report that last year, in 2014, there were zero watercraft-related manatee deaths in Jacksonville’s waters. This is down from 2013, when there were four watercraft-related manatee deaths,” Grant says.

That’s also lower than 2009, when Grant says there were eight. She says Jacksonville has 125 square miles of navigable waterways, and it takes local, state and federal agencies to patrol them together.

To report manatee injuries and deaths call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-888-404-3922, and visit myfwc.com/boatingguides for more information about boating in Duval County and around Florida.

You can follow Jessica Palombo @jessicapubradio.