Letters to the Editor

Boaters should protect manatees

This Fourth of July, residents and visitors alike are urged to be extra vigilant on the waterways to help keep our manatees safe.

So far in 2016, manatee watercraft-related deaths are outpacing the previous record year, which was 2009. Through June 24, 2016, 62 manatees had been killed by watercraft strikes in Florida waters. In 2009, 48 manatees had died from watercraft-related injuries by the end of June. If watercraft-related manatee mortality continues at this rate, we will exceed the 2009 record well before the end of the year. We implore the boating public to be on the alert for manatees because vessel operators are the only ones who can prevent manatees from strikes that often lead to serious injury or death.

Save the Manatee Club works to safeguard manatees from watercraft collisions by producing and distributing public awareness and educational materials free to boaters, Florida shoreline property owners and to the general public. Waterproof boating banners, dock signs, boat console stickers and manatee protection tips cards can be obtained by contacting the Club via email at education@savethemanatee.org.

The Club has also produced a new video titled Manatees and Watercraft, which focuses on the problems manatees face in the water every day. Watch the video at youtu.be/4WI858f-Sfs. Also, download the free Manatee Alert App for iPhones and iPads at bit.ly/15EYen6, which notifies boaters when they are approaching manatee speed zones.

Let's all do our part to keep Florida's waters safe during this holiday and beyond. For more information on manatees, visit the Club’s website at savethemanatee.org.

Katie Tripp, director of science and conservation, Save the Manatee Club, Maitland