November is manatee awareness month. Florida’s gentle giant can be seen in many of the beautiful waterways right here in our backyard. The Florida manatee is an endangered species related to the elephant that spend most of their day grazing on sea grass. These large marine mammals inhabit rivers, canals, bays, estuaries, and costal areas. They can travel as far north as Virginia and as far west as Texas. With no natural predators a manatee can have a lifespan of about 60 years, unfortunately the manatee’s greatest enemy is also its greatest protector…people. With the loss of habitat and boaters not obeying local speed laws being a contributing factor in manatee deaths every year what can we do to ensure the safety to one of Florida’s most amazing marine creatures. As the manatees return to our warmer waters this winter it is crucial that we slow down our watercrafts, obey all posted speed zones, and wear polarized sunglasses to help see manatees that are out there. Anyone who observes a sick, injured, orphaned, entangled or dead manatee, or witnesses someone harming or harassing these vulnerable animals, should immediately call the Florida Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC.
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