ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œHowever, if we donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t have any extreme cold fronts between now and Christmas, it wouldnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t be unexpected to see manatees still scattered throughout the stateÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s waterways,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said Dr. Tripp. Also, during or between cold fronts, manatees will look for opportunities to leave warm water sites in order to feed. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œLogically, the same milder weather that might entice people to go boating could draw manatees away from warm-water sites and into their favorite feeding grounds, so we really must keep a vigilant watch for them while boating,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â added Tripp.
Tripp urges boaters to ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œthink like a manateeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â when out enjoying FloridaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s waters. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIf itÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s warm enough for you to be out on the waterways, then the manatees are likely to be out there as well.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
Regardless of the weather, Save the Manatee Club reminds the boating community to always follow posted speed zone signs. If an area is designated as slow speed year-round for manatees, it means that manatees can be there at any time. Signs of manatee activity that boaters can watch out for include the manateeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s nose breaking the surface to breathe (which can look like a half-submerged coconut in the water), the manateeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s gray back that will reflect sunlight as it dives, a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œfootprintÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â or ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œboilÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â on the waterÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s surface created by the manateeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s tail as it swims, or a ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œmud plumeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â in a shallow area indicating one or more manatees feeding nearby.
Broward County experiences an influx of manatees during cold weather. In the days before Christmas 2010, after severe and prolonged cold temperatures, more than 1,000 manatees were counted in Broward during an aerial survey.
ThatÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s the highest count ever observed there, according to Dr. Pat Quinn, who administers the manatee program for Broward CountyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Natural Resources Planning and Management Division. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe number of manatees in BrowardÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s waterways tends to pick up by mid-December when, more traditionally, there could be hundreds of manatees in the County,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said Quinn.
Deputy Brad Lemieux with the Broward County SheriffÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s Office patrols an area known as the ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œManatee LoopÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â that extends from Port Everglades to the inland Lauderdale Power Plant. The area is regulated for manatee protection and Deputy Lemieux is on the water to ensure that boaters are obeying posted speed zones and understand the consequences to manatees of not following the law.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThanksgiving signals the start of the holiday boating season, and if the conditions are windy, boaters are likely to stay in the Intracoastal Waterway and inland canals, the same waterways used by manatees,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œEven on a cold day, if people have family in town, they want to treat them to a boat ride. We try to keep as many deputies on the water as we can to help protect the manatees.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
From January 1st through November 25th, 2011, there have already been 81 documented statewide manatee deaths from boat strikes. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt would be wonderful if we could avoid further boat-related deaths in 2011, but it will take the full support of the boating community to make this possible,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said Tripp.