LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Wildlife officials are reminding Floridians to keep an eye open for manatees on the move around the state.
According to Florida Fish and Wildlife, the annual migration of Florida manatees begins in November, as the weather cools.
Manatees are often seen swimming in Florida’s rivers, bays or coastal waters. But this time of year they are searching for warmer waters to help them survive winter’s cold.
People in boats and personal watercraft are asked to slow down to avoid manatees, particularly in shallow areas. Many seasonal manatee protection zones also go into effect as of Nov. 15.
Adult manatees weigh about 1,000 pounds but can be difficult to see, especially when just below the water’s surface. Keep a lookout for signs of manatees such as the circular “footprints” they trace on the top of the water.
In February 2016, the FWC announced 6,250 manatees were counted in an aerial survey of Florida waters. But there have been 91 manatee fatalities caused by boat strikes so far in 2016.