Remember Manatees During Safe Boating Week

By on May 23, 2016 in Community Stories

Manatee in springs

Volusia County, FL– Volusia County’s Environmental Management Division is joining boating
safety advocates across the nation in their efforts to promote
responsible boating during National Safe Boating Week, May 21 to 27.

The county’s environmental specialists are also encouraging boaters
to watch for manatees.

“This is a great week for boaters to check their vessels for
seaworthiness and safety gear,” said Georgia Zern, the county’s
manatee protection program manager. “And while on the water don’t
forget our friendly manatees, the gentle giants who glide peacefully
around and under our vessels. We’re asking boaters to make sure they
comply with all manatee and boating safety zones so they can protect
themselves, their passengers, other boaters and our precious
manatees.”

To protect human and manatee lives, Zern recommends this list of tips
for boaters.

● Wear a life jacket. Drowning was the leading cause of death from
boating accidents in Florida in 2015.

● Use an engine cut-off switch lanyard. This ensures that if the
vessel operator falls overboard, the engine will shut down.

● Post a lookout. This will help the boat operator pay attention
to everything going on around the vessel. The lookout may spot the
tell-tale swirls or “footprints” manatees make when swimming through
the water.

● Wear polarized sunglasses. They help you see manatees and
underwater obstructions in the boat’s path. A manatee’s snout may be
the only visible portion when a manatee surfaces to breathe.

● Slow down and observe all speed zones. Slowing down gives the
operator time to avoid striking manatees in the water. It also gives the
manatee time to move out of the way. In Florida in 2015, 58 boating
accidents were attributed to excessive speed, and 86 manatees died from
watercraft strikes.

● Keep these numbers handy. To report boating emergencies or
manatees in distress, call 888-404-FWCC (3922). To report people who are
operating boats dangerously, call or text Tip@MyFWC.com.

For information about manatees, visit www.volusia.org/manatees.

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