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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Florida is known for attracting “snow birds” but the warm waters off our coastline also attract manatees which means boaters need to slow down and be careful.

November is Manatee Awareness Month.

State wildlife officials are asking all boaters to slow down and watch out for the slow-moving mammals as they begin their annual migration to warmer waters.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the migration is the animals’ instinctual response to winter’s approach.

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“Boaters slowing down and watching out for manatees can help protect this species from injury. Anyone who spots a manatee that is injured, entangled in fishing line or otherwise in distress can help initiate a rescue by calling the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922,” said Carol Knox, the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management section leader.

Unlike dolphins and other marine mammals, manatees do not have true blubber to insulate them from waters below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, so they must find warmer waters during their migration to survive the winter cold.

Despite their size, with adults weighing 1,000 pounds on average, manatees can be difficult to spot. That is why it is important for boaters, including those on personal watercraft, to slow down to prevent hitting them, particularly in shallow areas or posted manatee protection zones.

On November 15th, many seasonal manatee protection zones around the state go into effect.

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