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Conservationists Push For More Boating Safety Education In Florida In Hopes It Will Protect Manatees

A manatee swims through water.
Wilfredo Lee
/
AP Photo
A manatee comes up for air as it swims in the Stranahan River, Thursday, April 2, 2020, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

After an uptick in manatee deaths last year, wildlife activists are pushing for a change in Florida's boating safety rules. Sarah Gledhill works for the Center for Biological Diversity. She says the center wants all boaters to take a safety course that she says will inherently help manatees.

"Boater operators will be more aware of their surroundings not only from that public safety standpoint but from the standpoint of wildlife at the same time," Gledhill says.

Right now, the state only requires boaters 33 years old and younger to take a safety course before they can pilot a boat.

More than 600 manatees died in 2020. At least 90 were killed from boat collisions.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Center for Biological Diversity are hoping lawmakers will consider the issue in the upcoming legislative session.