In the local paper today.

Don't disturb manatees, officials warn


With 10 manatees already dead from the cold this year in Brevard, state wildlife officials say they’ll ticket people who get too close to huddling masses of sea cows and scare them out of canals or other warm water havens.

Harassing, feeding or in any way altering the endangered species’ behavior, whether intentional or unintentional, is a 2nd degree misdemeanor, punishable with about $300 ticket.

“Just watch them, and don’t disturb them,” said Ann Spellman, a marine mammal biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “Disturbing them puts them at risk, and I don’t think anybody means to do that.”

In some Brevard canals where manatees have been gathering by the dozens this week, kayakers have paddled right up to the endangered species, Spellman said, scaring juvenile manatees away from the warm water canals, Spellman said.

Manatees need water at about 68 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer, she said. Cooler water can make manatees, especially younger ones, susceptible to fatal diseases.

In January, blunt cold snaps proved fatal. Spellman collected 10 dead manatees in Brevard County this month, eight of which were suspected victims of cold stress. On Saturday, she rescued a 6-foot long, underweight manatee at Kennedy Point Marina. The animal was lethargic and had symptoms of cold stress, Spellman said.

“They just don’t have the metabolic capability to make up for the heat loss to the environment,” she said.

That’s why not disturbing them as they take refuge in warmer tributaries and canals are so crucial, Spellman said.

Before man built power plants along the estuaries, most manatees were thought to venture not much farther north than Sebastian Inlet during winter. But biologists say the warm water discharges from power plants, such as the two power plants along U.S. 1 in the Port St. John area, now lure the marine mammals farther north than they would otherwise be.

Hundreds of manatees congregate in the warm water discharges from power plants. When they venture too far from those discharges and a cold snap occurs, younger manatees can die.

Contact Warmer at 242-3663 or [email protected].

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All the Marine Patrol has to do is go to Goode Park in Palm Bay. Every day there are up to 10 to 15 people at a time on the boat ramp dock feeding, touching and even swimming with the mantees. The dirty looks I get when pulling my boat up to the dock is astounding. One time a human manatee (about 350 lbs) was blocking the entire dock and had the gaul to say I bumped him in the water while securing my dock lines. Can you believe that! The splash he made with the splashing of the mantees hauling @ss got everyone on the dock wet. Sceaming women and crying kids it was classic.

Posted by: snookster on Tue Jan 29, 2008 3:49 pm


Ahh, I figured those manatees dying was somehow my fault. Gotta stop using that electricity...

Posted by: BobHowdy on Tue Jan 29, 2008 3:35 pm