The annual migration of Florida manatees to warmer waters begins this month and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) encourages boaters to help protect migrating manatees by looking out and slowing down for these gentle giants that often rest or congregate underwater and can be difficult to see.
On their annual trek, manatees, including mothers and their calves, swim along Florida’s many rivers, bays and coastal areas in search of the warmer, more stable temperatures found in freshwater springs, man-made canals and power plant outflows. Unlike dolphins and other marine mammals, manatees do not have true blubber to insulate them from waters below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, so they must find warmer waters during their migration to survive the winter cold.
Despite their size, with adults weighing 1,000 pounds on average, manatees can be difficult to spot. That is why it is important for boaters in Florida, including those using personal watercraft, to slow down to prevent collisions with manatees, particularly in shallow areas or posted manatee protection zones. On November 15, many seasonal manatee protection zones around the state go into effect. View manatee protection zones by county, including the seasonal changes.