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BROWARD (CBSMiami) – South Florida boaters be warned. Manatee season is here meaning more of them on the waterways and lower speed limits.

November 15 marked the beginning of manatee season, when the gentle sea cows move south to warmer water.

Boaters need to keep their eyes open for manatee “footprints” or circular slicks on the surface of the water and follow all the posted speed limits.

Polarized sunglasses also make it easier to spot manatees.

During one manatee season, more than 1,200 manatees were documented in Broward County’s waterways on a single day.

With colder weather, a large population of manatees are usually found in or near the Lauderdale Power Plant cooling lakes and the Port Everglades Power Plant cooling canal.

As the water warms after a cold snap, the manatees move into surrounding canals and Intracoastal Waterway to forage, thus increasing the chance of manatee/boater interaction.

Statewide, 107 manatees were killed by boats in 2017 with six of those deaths occurring in Broward County.

This is why the seasonal manatee protection zones went into effect on November 15 throughout the state and run through March 31, 2019.

Boaters who see a sick, injured, or dead manatee are urged to call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Wildlife Alert Number at (888) 404-FWCC (3922), text *FWC or # FWC on a cell phone or email tip@myfwc.com.

There is also a free “I Spy a Manatee” mobile app which allows users to report sightings of manatees, the app provides maps of the County’s state-regulated manatee protection and boating safety zones, allowing boaters to immediately see what zone(s) they are traveling through by using the location services of the mobile device.

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