We spent Father’s Day fishing off the shores of New Smyrna Beach. I couldn’t remember a time when the water was so clear! The waves were calm, so we thought the fishing would be good. Turns out we got a late start and with the water so clear, I think the fish could see us…only caught one fish. Yet the day reconfirmed that an unproductive day of fishing is still better than a productive day at work!
We did see several large manta rays gliding through the shallow waters, and then 3 large dark blobs headed our way. As they slowly approached, the creatures created quite an audience with beach-goers following them along the shore. 3 young manatee out for a swim in the shallow ocean waters. What odd, yet beautiful, creatures. Florida has the largest population of these endangered mammals – around 3,000.
When I learned that a manatee had to be rescued by SeaWorld just 4 days later, not far from where we fished, I wondered if it was one of the cows we had spotted that day. While the manatee we saw were all doing fine, it takes just one boater, or jet ski operator to change that. Lucky for the manatee, SeaWorld’s Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation Team is now caring for her with antibiotics and wonderful care. Hopefully soon she will return to her natural habitat.
There appear to be a lot of out-of-state boaters in the area, as well as a number of new boat rental business for tourists and vacationers that want to spend some time on our outstanding waters. This is great for Florida fishing; not so great for manatee. The leading known cause of death for them is by boat strikes; propellers and hulls inflicting serious or mortal wounds.
Did you know? The lifespan of a manatee in the wild is 50-60 years.
If you are boating in an area that you are unfamiliar with, take notice of the manatee zone signs. They are posted where manatee are known to be – in the warm waters of shallow rivers, bays, estuaries and coastal waters. However, with the waters so warm everywhere in Florida this time of the year, boaters should be overly cautious in shallow waters. If you spot a sick, injured, or orphaned manatee, you should immediately call the FWC at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922), *FWC or #FWC on your cellular phone, or use VHF Channel 16 on your marine radio.
SeaWorld’s rescue team will be busy this year. This particular manatee has recently been joined with nine Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles impacted by the oil spill. More animals are sure to come. Many thanks to their wonderful team!! For more information about SeaWorld’s animal education programs, visit their Animal Conservation site.
If you’d like to help, or would like to make a positive impact on Florida’s manatee this summer, why not adopt one! Learn more about these creatures by visiting Save the Manatee.
See the manatee while you are visiting and enjoy your time on the water.