Florida Manatee
© Jan Reyneirs

Florida Manatee

How You Can Help Florida Manatees

You don’t have to be in Florida to help protect manatees. Donate today to help Defenders fight for new protections for manatee habitat and slow speed zones to keep these gentle giants safe from boats! Your support will help us fight to protect Florida manatees and other threatened and endangered wildlife.

On the Ground

Whether you live in Florida or are visiting, there are some simple things you can do while boating in manatee waters:

  • Be alert while boating and always obey posted speed zone waterway signs—remember, manatees could be anywhere

  • Slow down. Reducing boat speed gives boaters a better chance to see manatees and avoid them, and gives manatees time to get of a boat’s path

  • Attend safe boating classes

  • Always wear polarized sunglasses to reduce glare for best visibility beneath the surface of the water

  • Keep a look out for “signs” of manatees, such as a snout breaking the surface or a swirl or flat spot in the water caused by a swimming manatee’s tail

  • Stay in deep water channels and avoid boating over shallow seagrass beds where manatees may be feeding

Boating isn’t the only way people can interact with manatees. It’s also important to take certain steps to be careful when you see manatees while you’re on shore or swimming out in the water:

  • Do not feed or provide water to manatees. This includes things like attracting manatees to a dock by spraying hoses into the water, which brings them too close to watercraft traffic and puts them in harm’s way.

  • When in the water, stay at the surface, at a distance, and never approach a resting or feeding manatee

  • Stay out of posted manatee sanctuary areas

  • Never separate a mother and calf pair

  • Do not touch, poke, ride or chase manatees in the wild

  • Use only snorkel gear in manatee habitat; SCUBA gear is noisy and can disturb manatees

  • Report manatee deaths, injuries, harassment, accidents or orphaned manatees — call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Wildlife Alert number: 1-888-404-3922 (FWCC)


Help Save a Manatee

A symbolic wildlife adoption helps save real animals in the wild.

Take Action

Visit our Wildlife Action Center to send a message to government leaders.

Speak Up for Wildlife

Learn how you can be a powerful advocate for wildlife.

Stay Informed

Sign up to receive instant alerts and updates about important issues affecting wildlife.

Become a Defender of Wildlife

Your Defenders membership includes our quarterly publication with fascinating articles and stunning photos of wild animals in their natural habitats.

You may also be interested in:

Florida Manatee, © Joel Sartore
In the Magazine
It was a tough year for Florida manatees. At press time in December, the death toll stood at 796—more than double the 2012 total, making 2013 the deadliest year on record.
In the Magazine
Are Florida's iconic and endangered marine mammals truly on the rebound?
In the Magazine
Sad record was set in Florida last year: the most manatee deaths—429—ever in state waters.