Area boaters reminded to watch out for manatees

Written by Aniela on December 23rd, 2010

Wildlife officers increasing enforcement on waterways

With the recent cool weather to hit South Florida, you would be surprised to know that there were more than humans affected by the arctic chill. During the past few weeks, the weather has broken some massive records with lows hitting in the thirties. It was nearly cold enough to have a snow fall.  Of the many ecosystems affected by the frigid temperatures, Florida’s friendliest creature, the manatee, also suffered.

Law enforcement was increased this week on waterways in Broward and Palm Beach counties to deter boats from speeding with record numbers of manatees are in the area. The manatees are already endangered due to careless boating and increasing boating populations. It seems that as boating populations increase, manatee populations decrease. They seem to share an inverse relationship.

An aerial survey in Palm Beach County found 799 manatees, easily breaking last year’s record of 588, most around discharge zone of the Florida Power & Light plant in Riviera Beach. An unusual number were also in the ocean near shore.

A survey in Broward County found 967 manatees, the vast majority by the FPL plant at Port Everglades and the plant just west of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

The new rules are in effect as soon as possible and are said to affect boat shipping companies, cargo shipping companies, and any major companies using marine highways on or around manatee homes.

The cold temperatures of the past week drove the endangered marine animals to seek warmth in the power plant discharge zones, which help compensate for the loss of the natural springs that used to provide warm refuges. These natural springs gradually withdrew from existence due to the formation of plants, artificial waterways, and pollution.

As you take your boat down and around any plant discharge zones, smoothly and slowly propel your engines. One of Florida’s sweetest most harmless creature existences is at stake. It is also a forewarning to reduce the risk of you receiving a ticket, a large fine, or a jail sentence this holiday season.

Source: [Sun-sentinel.com]

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