To our fellow boaters
If you don’t know to watch for manatees when you are boating in our canals, then you don’t belong on the water!
Today we returned to our canal after another lovely day of fishing. On our approach but still a distance away, we could see a large group of people gathered right on our dock. They soon gestured and waved us off, to make us aware there were manatee in the area. We were able to temporarily tie up at one of our vacant docks.
I jumped ashore, camera in hand, while my husband tended to the boat. I was able to get several wonderful shots of not just one manatee, but a family — obviously mother, father and baby — only a few feet from our dock. Eventually they slowly moved to the center of the canal.
It was then that we saw another boat approaching, and heading right in the direction of the oncoming manatee, who were at the surface of the water. We all started waving, whistling, shouting — in vain — to get the attention of what must have been at least four people.
The captain never did look in our direction. The entire time his gaze was on the opposite shore. It seemed that a couple of the passengers finally realized the message we were trying to send, because the boat slowed — but they did indeed pass right over the area where the manatees had been.
I did not think to try to get the name and/or number of the boat, as I figured they were going to tie up at their dock at the far end of the canal. However, they turned around, and came right back out again! They were not even owners in our canal — just sightseers, going too fast, but more importantly, not watching the waters for manatee.
We were not able to determine — only hope and pray — that the family of manatee were in deep enough water to escape harm.
To the totally irresponsible boaters sightseeing in our canal today, especially the captain of the boat: Are you happy knowing that due to your inattentiveness, you may have injured not just one, but a family of three manatee? You drove your boat and your propeller directly over them.
Michael & Linda Hinchliffe