FWC Closely Monitors Manatees & Sea Turtles Impacted By Cold Snap

By on January 5, 2018 in WNDB News

Florida – The recent cold weather in Florida has prompted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to check on sea turtles and manatees to ensure their health and safety.

“We are committed to conserving our natural resources, and are staged and ready in strategic areas throughout the state,” said Eric Sutton, FWC Executive Director. “Our team of FWC staff, partners and volunteers are monitoring the status of marine species affected most by the cold, and are prepared in case rescues are needed.”

According to the FWC, cold weather can stun sea turtles and cause them to float lifelessly in the water or near the shore. These turtles may appear to be dead but they are usually still alive. Anyone who comes across a stunned sea turtle is urged to call the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) immediately.

“Our staff, partners, and permitted volunteers are already working to rescue sea turtles in northwest Florida. Nearly 100 turtles have been rescued so far. We are also monitoring the Mosquito Lagoon and other areas of the state to see if sea turtles are being impacted there,” said the FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation Director, Kipp Frohlich.

The FWC says that Florida manatees are also highly impacted by the drop in temperature. In cold-weather conditions, manatees often group together in the warm water of natural springs and power plant discharge canals. Boaters are asked to keep a lookout for manatees, especially in shallow water near coastal and inland waterways, and to obey manatee speed zone signs. If you see a deceased or distressed manatee, you are asked to call the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline.

“Boaters should avoid areas where large numbers of manatees are gathered,” said the head of the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Gil McRae. “Aggregated animals should not be disturbed, as this could cause them to leave the warm-water sites that help them cope with cold temperatures.”

The cold temperatures are often deadly for fish. A fish can be killed by the cold alone due to stress or a fish can become more susceptible to disease. Warm-water fish, such as snook, are especially sensitive to cold temperatures. These fish may seem lethargic and can often be seen near the surface where the water is warmed by the sun. Dead and dying fish should be reported to the FWC Fish Kill Hotline at 800-636-0511.

More information on Florida’s wildlife and the FWC’S wildlife research can be found here.

Copyright Southern Stone Communications 2018.

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