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Sea Cow Sighting: What Can Boaters Do to Help Manatees?

If you’re boating in warmer waters, be on the lookout for giant floating potatoes, aka

Typically found in shallow coastal waters, the “teddy bears of the sea” are slow-
moving herbivores and feed on sea grass, mangrove leaves and algae. Because of
their size and similar slow-moving nature to the land-dwelling cow, manatees are
commonly called “sea cows.”

While there are three species of manatee in the world – Amazonian, West Indian and
West African –, in Florida, you’ll likely only spot the West Indian manatee bobbing
around in the wild, states the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [FWS].
Despite being considered beloved creatures of the sea by humans, the manatee
population around the world is at risk of extinction, reports the IUCN Red List of
Threatened Species.

The FWS estimates a global population of only 13,000 West Indian manatees today,
with roughly 6,500 of those living in the coastal waters of the southeastern United
States and Puerto Rico – a number that, thankfully, has increased by more than 400
percent since 1991, when the population in the region was estimated to be only

While the conservation efforts for manatees in the wild has drastically improved
since the incorporation of the 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act, the greatest
threat against these creatures today is humans – specifically boat impacts.
Smithsonian Mag reports that the average speed of the friendly neighborhood
manatee is only 3 to 5 mph, which is far too slow to outrun a speeding boat.
Additionally, it estimates that at least half of all manatee deaths are a direct result of
boat impacts.

Because of this, the absolute best thing boaters can do to help manatees is to keep a
wary eye on their surroundings, especially in waters close to shore, inland
waterways and even freshwater riverines. Also, boaters can help by simply reducing
their speed when closer to shore, especially when in no-wake zones.
If you’re kayaking, swimming, surfing or enjoying the water in ways other than
boating, continually employ the use of common sense if you spot a manatee. Do not
touch or disturb the manatee. Instead, abide by the idea of “look, but don’t touch.”
At Trac Ecological, we’re committed to not only creating marine-safe cleaning
products for boats, but we’re passionate about preserving the world’s waters and

creatures within. To learn more about our commitment to ecological green
products, visit our website today.

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