Governor Signs Manatee Awareness Month Proclamation

For further information, contact Janice Nearing,
Director of Public Relations
Phone: (407) 539-0990
E-mail: jnearing@savethemanatee.org

For Immediate Release: October 31, 2014

Note: A high resolution jpeg (300 dpi) of a manatee image is available upon request.

November is dedicated to manatee conservation in Florida. Governor Rick Scott has officially signed the Manatee Awareness Month proclamation, a tradition supported by Florida’s governors over the years to heighten public awareness about the importance of protecting the state’s official marine mammal and their habitat. "The manatee is a distinctive, valuable, and beloved natural resource," states the proclamation. "Cooperation among Florida’s public, private, and governmental organizations is vital to saving manatees, and organizations and individuals must continue working together for the long-term survival of the manatee."

Save the Manatee Club, an international nonprofit conservation organization, has been the voice for endangered manatees since 1981 when it was co-founded by singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett. It is the recognized worldwide leader in manatee education and conservation efforts.

A regulatory sign marks a seasonal manatee zone in Florida.

“Our mission is to ensure manatees and their aquatic habitat are protected for today and into the future,” says Patrick Rose, Executive Director of Save the Manatee Club. “This is a demanding task when you consider that a number equal to 17% of the known Florida manatee population died just last year alone.” Rose added that in the face of such monumental challenges, public involvement through awareness and education is vital since manatees are defenseless against the cold, red tide, speeding watercraft and disruptions to their critical habitat.

November is the time of year when manatees start returning to warm-water winter refuges in Florida. Since they are a subtropical species, manatees cannot tolerate prolonged exposure to water temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. The Club reminds boaters that many seasonal manatee zones in Florida are in effect by early November and to pay close attention to posted signage indicating slow or idle speeds. Manatees are often injured or killed by boat strikes and other human activities, which can drive them from these critically-important sanctuaries and refuges.

Save the Manatee Club offers a variety of ways for the public to get involved and help protect Florida’s manatees. Free public awareness waterway signage, boating banners and decals, waterway cards, and educational posters are produced by the Club. The bright yellow waterproof banner, which boldly cautions “Please Slow: Manatees Below,” can assist in warning boaters to slow down for manatees who may be present. Shoreline property signs and matching boat decals are also available and feature the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s hotline number (1-888-404-3922) for reporting sick and injured manatees. Boater and diver awareness posters are also available to dive shops, marinas, businesses, visitor centers, classrooms and libraries. Family-friendly outdoor signs are produced by the Club and distributed to state, municipal, and county parks; marinas; and other sites where human/manatee interactions can be a problem. Requests for any of these free materials can be sent via e-mail to education@savethemanatee.org or by calling toll free at 1-800-432-JOIN (5646). Also, click the following link to download the free Manatee Alert App.

“Manatee Awareness Month is both a reminder and a call to action for Florida residents and the millions of visitors to work together to keep manatees in our lives and in the lives of future generations,” says Rose.

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