Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Manatee Get Front Page Coverage

Very happy to have some of my images from my recent trip to visit the manatee of Crystal River, Florida grace the front page of TreeHugger.com.  Editor Jaymi Heimbuch has done a great job telling the story of these gentle creatures.  Give it a read! 
Florida Manatees Face a Tough Battle

Monday, February 20, 2012

Manatee Mania

 I last visited the manatee of Crystal River, Florida in 2010.  It was an especially hard year for them with horrific cold snaps that left many dead from cold-stress syndrome.  This year has been far more forgiving.  From the archive: Magic Number for Manatees

The area is growing - a new boardwalk allows visitors to view the manatee resting in the springs without the need to get wet.  A visitors center with lots of educational exhibits is being planned. There was more monitoring, lots of gentle corrections ("I'm sorry but no, you can't hug the manatee back.") and tons of happy visitors. 

And how do the manatee feel about all of this attention?  Well, the numbers utilizing Kings Bay are on the rise.  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has established a seasonal refuge (Nov-March) with key areas of Kings Bay cordoned off just for manatee: no fishing, no scuba, no boats and no swimming. 

The increase numbers of manatee also bear an increase number of scars.  With so many manatee in the water at one time it's easy to see how they come into conflict with boats.  We witnessed one pontoon boat collide with a manatee in a side channel - luckily the boat was going very slowly and the manatee showed no signs of serious injury but the strike could have been avoided. 

  1. Wear polarized sunglasses while operating a boat so you can more easily see manatee in the water.
  2. Manatee like to feed on shallow sea grass beds - use a pole, paddle or a trolling motor to avoid pinning them.
  3. Slow down!! Idle speeds are your friend in manatee zones.  Believe the signs.
  4. Check around your motor before starting your engine. Manatee like to rest in the shade of boats.
  5. Do not feed manatee.  It encourages them to approach boats and not everyone is going to be as nice about it.
  6. Don't pollute - fishing lines and plastic bags  can cause no end of trouble with unsuspecting marine life.
Scars from an encounter with a boat motor