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Florida's Official Mammal Gets A Helping Fin

November is manatee awareness month in Florida, and with that the state is implementing seasonal safeguards aimed at protecting Florida’s official mammal.

The statewide population of manatees is somewhere around 5 thousand but that number is slowly growing each year.  Scott Calleson, a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, said while water temperature changes and habitat damage can cause manatee deaths, humans still take a big chunk of the blame.

“Traditionally boat related impacts are a significant cause of mortality, usually in the neighborhood of 25% per year, so that’s certainly a significant risk – you know sub-lethal injuries are also an issue,” Calleson said.

To combat the human factor the Commission is asking water goers to observe manatee regulations more closely, especially during this season when manatees migrate to Florida.  In 11 counties across the state, the Fish and Wildlife Commission is enforcing low speed zones, and off limits areas for boaters.  These regulations go into effect November 15 and run until the end of March or April.