At least 22 watercraft-related manatee deaths have occurred in Florida since Memorial Day, prompting the Save the Manatee Club to issue a warning to boaters.
The last long weekend of the summer, Labor Day weekend, means a lot of boats will be on the water. The Save the Manatee Club is urging boaters to be extra cautious and watch out for the endangered marine mammals over the busy holiday weekend.
Five of this summer's watercraft fatalities occurred in Duval County, followed by three each in Lee and Pinellas counties, two each in Brevard and Hillsborough counties and one each in Charlotte, Clay, Collier, Flagler, Indian River, St. Johns and Volusia counties.
"The number of watercraft-related manatee deaths we are seeing in Duval County is unacceptable," said Katie Tripp, director of science and conservation for the club. "Even one watercraft death is senseless and preventable."
So far, 2009 has been a record-breaking year for manatee mortality with 60 deaths.
"These animals are often mutilated from propeller blades and blunt force trauma," Tripp said. "It is our hope that if people truly understand what it means to 'hit a manatee,' and how manatees needlessly suffer, they will slow down on the waterways and always be on the lookout for them."
Florida shoreline property owners can get a free aluminum dock sign from the club which reads, "Please Watch for Manatees: Operate with Care." Contact the Save the Manatee Club via e=mail at email@example.com or call 1-800-432-5646.