Manatees

Manatee in the water

The West Indian Manatee is a marine mammal protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973. These acts make it illegal to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal. The manatee is a large slow-moving herbivorous animal that resembles a blunt-nosed, stubby-flippered seal. These animals mainly inhabit the waters of Florida, although they have been sighted from south Virginia around the Gulf coast to Texas. They are quite docile and have no natural enemies, but are an endangered species, mostly because collisions with small craft cause a substantial number of deaths each year.  In the winter, manatees move from the cooler waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico and congregate, sometimes in large numbers, in warmer freshwater rivers and streams and near the cooling water discharge outlets of power plants.  It is during these high concentration periods that most manatee deaths occur.

The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act has been established to regulate motorboat speeds and operations in critical areas of manatee concentration betweeManatees at water surfacen November 15 and March 31.  The regulated zones are marked by large reflective signs.  In these zones, boat operators must reduce their speed to "slow" or "idle", and no person shall intentionally or negligently annoy, molest, harass, disturb, collide with, injure, or harm manatees.  Copies of the regulations are available from the Florida Department of Natural Resources, Division of Marine Resources, 3900 Commonwealth Blvd., Tallahassee, FL 32399.

 

NOTE:  Regulated zones within Port Everglades include the entire main turning basin west of the line between Light 11 and Light 12 and south along the Intracoastal Waterway through and including the Dania Cut-off Canal.