POMPANO BEACH — Wildlife officers have a message for boaters: Slow down for migrating manatees in Florida.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is hosting a news conference Thursday in Pompano Beach to discuss the importance of following speed restrictions in manage protection zones.
November is Manatee Awareness Month. The wildlife commission says in a statement that when water temperatures drop, manatees move to warmer refuges such as canals, outflows from power plants and freshwater springs.
Boaters and personal watercraft operators should scan the water near or in front of their vessels and look for signs that manatees are close by, including repetitive swirl patterns called a manatee footprint, a mud trail, or a snout or fluke (tail) breaking the water’s surface.
Here are some other steps boaters and personal watercraft operators can take to help manatees migrate safely:
■ Keep vessels in marked channels.
■ Wear polarized sunglasses to improve your vision.
■ Obey posted boat speed zones.
■ Use poles, paddles or trolling motors when close to manatees.
■ Have someone help scan the water when under way.
Besides following manatee-safety recommendations, people can help manatees survive by reporting sick, distressed, injured, orphaned or entangled manatees to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or text Tip@MyFWC.com. Florida residents also can call #FWC or *FWC via cell phone.