The season for everyone’s favorite marine mammal is upon us once again.
November in Florida is Manatee Awareness Month, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is warning boaters to keep an eye out for the slow moving creatures.
Manatees are now on the move for warm waters as the colder months approach. Many seasonal manatee protection zones across the state go into effect on Nov. 15.
According to the FWC, as of February there were 6,250 manatees counted during an aerial survey, but 91 have been killed so far this year due to boat strikes.
Manatees can be detected better if boaters wear polarized sunglasses and look for telltale signs of a manatee’s presence, like a circular “footprint” on top of the water.
The commission said it spends $2 million per year on manatee conservation, research, rescue and education.
“Boaters who slow down and keep a lookout for Florida manatees are an important reason the overall population of this species is doing better,” said Carol Knox, head of the FWC’s imperiled species management section.
In honor of the awareness month, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo wants to raise awareness in the digital world. The zoo created a Change.org petition to send to Unicode to make a manatee emoji. Emojis are symbols that resemble a range of topics and are used online.
“Manatees are beloved across the country, but especially by Floridians,” said Kristy Chase-Tozer, vice president of marketing and sales for the zoo. “Developing a manatee emoji is a fun way to continue our conversation about their need for protections.”