As of Monday, October 31, sea turtle nesting and hatching season officially ended on our 9.5-mile stretch of beach. However, as we move deeper into winter another vital marine season begins – manatee season, which runs from Nov. 15 through March 31. Our beloved sea turtles leave our beaches and our gentle giants migrate into our warmer waters. Despite their opposite seasons, manatees and sea turtle share a few things in common, including the fact they are endangered/threatened. In addition, sea turtles and manatees both need clean water and healthy sea grass, and rely on responsible boaters to help ensure their well-being. In celebration of Manatee Awareness Month we have compiled a seven easy ways to celebrate manatee awareness month.
1. Manatee Lagoon – Stop by Manatee Lagoon – An FPL Eco-Discovery Center to see manatees gather outside of the multi-functional educational center. The center has two levels of observation areas, weekly programming, a manatee webcam and a lecture series. Manatees are attracted to the warm-water discharges of FPL’s energy center. While visiting you might see hundreds of manatees gathered at the center.
2. Adopt a Manatee – Although you can’t keep these seagrass grazing gentle giants in your back yard, you can adopt a real manatee. When you adopt a manatee, the money goes towards efforts to help protect manatees and their habitat. Save The Manatee Club allows you to select a manatee from a specific area and choose a real manatee in that area.
3. No Speeding – Help these stunning sea cows by making moves – slow moves of course. Going slow through reduced speed zones reduces the likelihood of collisions. During the holidays, boat traffic can triple making conditions even more dangerous for manatees. Make sure to go slow and inform other boaters.
4. Attend a Class – Attend a class at Manatee Lagoon, where you will learn more information from the center’s well-trained staff members. Manatee Lagoons’ Manatee Masters will engage you in numerous activities and stimulating discussions. They will also share their master knowledge by providing facts throughout the entire class, such as “Manatees have facial whiskers called “vibrissae” that are used for sensory purposes, much like the touch sensitivity humans have in their fingers.”
5. Take Action – Become involved with a local ocean conservation organization and fight for what you believe in. It is illegal to intentionally harm a manatee in Florida waters, therefore please report an incidence if you see one. People should not feed, touch or interact with a manatee in Florida waters.
6. Eat Vegetarian – In honor of our favorite ocean floor vegetations, you can increase awareness about manatees by going vegetarian for manatee season. As herbivores, the manatee’s diet consists mostly of sea grasses and water growing vegetation.
7. Endangered Species Act – The Endangered Species Act provides for the conservation of species that are endangered or threatened throughout all or a significant portion of their range, and the conservation of the ecosystems on which they depend. In celebration of manatees and other endangered species, become passionately involved in political issues concerning The Endangered Species Act.