Manatee Viewing Guidelines: Safely Getting Up Close And Personal

Florida is filled with treasures be it on land or water. There are many things to do when you are in this vacation destination that when you return home, you will surely have great memories. A trip to Florida will not be complete without water exploration. Blessed by crystal clear beaches, which are inhabited by sea creatures like Manatees, Florida’s captivating beauty attracts multitudes of visitors every year for manatee viewing.

Manatee viewing is one of the fun and enjoyable activities vacationers can participate in. As manatees interact with humans are fun to watch, you will enjoy seeing their tail, flipper, snout, or back as they swirl. Manatees will break the surface of the water to breathe.

As much as you want to come near them, there are some viewing restrictions that you need to keep in mind. The West Indian Manatee, for instance, is a type of imperiled species protected by both state and federal law. Disturbing or harassing them should be avoided. While the sight of these sea creatures can be exciting, you should not do anything to disrupt them even when they are near you. Harassment is referred to as a type of activity that will result in altering the natural behavior of an animal. When the manatee’s behavior is altered, you will pose danger to these creatures which is against the law.

Avoid these behaviors when you are near manatees

1. Looking at these creatures is fine, but touching them is prohibited.

A manatee viewing is exactly that: a viewing. There is a reason why tourists or visitors are not allowed to closely interact with manatees. Even feeding or giving them water is not allowed. Their behavior can change once they are used to being around people. Why is it such a bad thing to interact with them? A close and frequent encounter with manatees will cause them to lose their natural fear of humans and boats. This change in their behavior can subject them to danger.

2. Do not chase a manatee.

Water-based activities like diving, paddling, swimming, or snorkeling are popular in Florida. If you chance upon a manatee while doing any of these activities, you should avoid chasing or pursuing them. Never stab or poke them with your hands, feet or any sharp object. Once they avoid you, do not attempt to chase them to get a closer view.

3. Minimize the noise.

A manatee that appears nearby may get you excited. However, an excessive voice can also be bad for these creatures as it may startle them. Frightened manatees will leave the area. This is why passively observing them is recommended. Hearing the sound coming from your scuba gear or other devices can scare manatees away as well.

Swimming near manatees might be one of the activities you are looking forward to doing. However, you need to strictly adhere to guidelines to prevent these sea animals from being harassed. If you are near the activity site, you should be mindful of your actions because your behavior can affect other people who are in the area. The Kings Bay and the Crystal River area closely monitor swimmers who are around manatees.

If caught violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973, penalties will be imposed which include paying a maximum fine of $500 and/or imprisonment for a maximum of 60 days. In the event that harassment has resulted in manatee’s death or injury, the state of Florida has the right to pursue prosecution.

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