MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – It is the peak of boating season here along the Gulf Coast and whether you are boating, paddling or swimming in our local waterways, you have probably seen a manatee safety sign. It is very important to pay attention to these especially in the summer when manatees are in our local streams, creeks, and rivers.
Elizabeth Hieb with the Manatee Sighting Network explains, “Generally about 100 feet of space is a good rule of thumb. They are naturally curious and they might even come up to you. But we never want to do things like get in the water with them, chase them, feed them, or give them water because this gets them way too used to people and could put them in potentially harmful situations.”
If you see a manatee safety sign, manatees have been spotted in that location, so be sure to use extra caution. If not, they love warm water, so shallow areas in the summertime are normally hot spots.
Hieb adds that manatees are in, “areas that are more narrow and shallow…. places where it is smart to maybe go a little slower anyway for your own safety. Also doing things like wearing polarized sunglasses or having someone that is a designated ‘manatee spotter.'” She also suggests that you turn off your motor if you have spotted a manatee.
If you spot a manatee, it is important to report it to the Manatee Sighting Network. They can be reached at their 24 hour phone line: 1-866-493-5803, their website with an online reporting form: manatee.disl.org, or their email address: email@example.com. That phone line is also the number you would call in cases of injured, stranded, or deceased manatees in both Alabama and Mississippi. To receive a manatee awareness sign, you can send an email to the address above or call their phone number listed above.
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