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Cold snap brings more manatees to Broward; use caution in boats

With the unusually long cold spell Florida has been experiencing, it is expected that many manatees will be migrating south into Broward’s warmer waters over the next few days and weeks. Manatees are unable to survive long periods of time in water temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit and as temperatures drop, manatees seek refuge in warm springs and around power plants.

Larger numbers of manatees in Broward County’s waterways means greater potential for manatee injuries due to collisions with boats. Subsequently, Broward County is urging all boat operators to take care and follow manatee and speed zone regulations while on the water and to keep an eye out for the slow moving animals.

Broward County has two warm water refuges used extensively by manatees during the winter months. One is located at the power plant in Port Everglades and the other is off the South Fork of the New River, south of I-595 and east of State Road 441. Manatees use the Intracoastal Waterway as the main north-south travel corridor to reach these refuges while manatees heading inland will also use the New River and South Fork New River.

An aerial survey on Monday, January 4, by the Mote Marine Lab found more than 365 manatees in Broward County, more than three times the number counted just a week ago in an aerial survey. The number of manatees occupying Broward’s waterways is expected to increase as the cold weather persists. In one aerial survey conducted during a cold weather snap in 2009, more than 900 manatees were counted in Broward County. With an estimated statewide population of 3,800 manatees, this means that nearly 25 percent of the endangered animals were in our waterways.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) reported that 411 manatees died in the state in 2009, which is the highest number on record for a calendar year. Fifteen manatees died in Broward County, matching the record number of mortalities in 1999 and 2006. Watercraft-related mortalities accounted for 22 percent of statewide manatee deaths in 2009, with three of the Broward mortalities being watercraft-related. Staff from FWC has already recovered one dead manatee in Broward on January 2, 2010. It was reported to be a large calf of approximately 300 pounds, but the cause of death was not immediately apparent. A necropsy will be performed at the FWC Pathology Lab in St. Petersburg.

Related posts:

  1. Cold weather emergency declared for Broward; shelters open
  2. Broward opening cold weather shelter; expect drop to low 40s
  3. Residents Urged to Conserve Water in Broward
  4. BSO offers safety tips for cold weather
  5. Water bill eventually going up again in Broward?

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Posted by Andrea Freygang on Jan 14 2010. Filed under Animals, Broward County, Environmental, Fort Lauderdale, Local news. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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