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November is Manatee Awareness Month

Did you know that November is Manatee Awareness Month? All month long, we celebrate our beloved sea cow—many of whom are our neighbors on Longboat Key and beyond.

Former Florida Gov. Bob Graham declared November Manatee Awareness Month in 1979, when Florida started designating manatee protection zones in areas where manatees gather in the winter. November is the month when the manatees return typically returns to our warmer waters from their summer migratory routes.

While we are lucky to often see manatees while we’re out on the water, these gentle giants have experienced a devastating year: more have died this year than ever before due to loss of seagrass from algal blooms like red tide. The official Save the Manatee website offers suggestions on how we, as individuals, can help protect seagrass—check out the tips here.

And, of course, boaters should always look out for manatees, too. Since manatees can be difficult to spot when they’re underwater, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission offers these tips:

  • Wear polarized sunglasses to help spot manatees.
  • Look for large circles on the water, also known as manatee footprints, indicating the presence of a manatee below.
  • Look for a snout sticking up out of the water.
  • Follow posted manatee zones while boating.
  • Report an injured, distressed, sick or dead manatee to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or by dialing #FWC or *FWC on a cellphone

Happy boating—and happy spotting these sweet sirenians!