Guide to the Florida Keys & Everglades
By Rick Ferren
Mind Your Manatee Manners
It's estimated that there are about 2,000 sea cows, or West Indian manatees,
left in the United States. About 43 percent of the endangered animals die of
human-induced causes, many by collisions with boats.
Full-grown manatees reach lengths of 10 feet and weigh about 1,000 pounds.
They can be found in fresh, brackish, or salt water, as long as it's above
68 degrees Fahrenheit.
While in the Florida Keys, and especially if you bring your own boat, here
are a few things to know about protecting manatees, compliments of the Save
the Manatee Club.
- Practice "passive observation" by watching manatees from a
- Obey boating speed limits, especially in designated manatee protection
- Resist the urge to feed manatees or give them water.
- When swimming or diving, look, but don't touch.
- Stash your trash. Discard monofilament line, hooks, and other trash
- If you see an injured, dead, tagged, or orphaned manatee, or if you
see a manatee being harassed, Call 1-800-DIAL-FMP
(1-800-342-5367), or *FMP from a cellular phone, or VHF Channel
16 on your marine radio. Click here for more information
on West Indian manatees.
Published (print): 1999, Published (Web): January 2003,