Save the Manatee Club is offering a free public awareness banner for Florida boaters. The banner, which reads, “Please Slow, Manatees Below,” is designed to alert other boaters to the presence of manatees in the waterways. They are available, in limited supply, by contacting Save the Manatee Club.
The bright yellow banner, which also features a large drawing of a manatee on it, was the idea of Barbara Birdsey, a Martin County resident and former member of the Save the Manatee Club Board of Directors. “My husband and I wanted to try to warn other boaters about manatees in the area,” she explains. “We took our homemade, cardboard signs, went out in the Jupiter/Hobe Sound area on a few busy weekends, saw manatees, and held up the signs. To our delight, we found that oncoming boaters were very responsive. They slowed down, looked around, and even approached us for more information.” Those original homemade cardboard signs have been replaced by the new, attention-grabbing, plastic banner, approximately 1 1/2 by 2 feet in size. The banners are easy to handle and roll up for storage, and each end has a pocket where poles can be inserted to use for holding up the sign.
Save the Manatee Club is providing the banners to interested boaters in order to help protect the slow-moving animals. Watercraft-related manatee mortality continues to be the leading known cause of manatee deaths in Florida. The banners provide a way for boaters to play a pivotal role in manatee protection. They can quickly and easily communicate with other boaters wherever manatees are spotted. This is an ideal, hands-on opportunity for the boating public to get involved in helping manatees.
In addition, there are some good general guidelines boaters can follow to help protect manatees from injury or death:
Wear polarized sunglasses; they can help eliminate the glare of the sun and can help you see below the water's surface.
Stay in deep water channels and follow all posted boat speed regulations.
Avoid boating over shallow seagrass beds where manatees might be feeding.
Look for the manatee's snout, back, tail, or flipper breaking the surface of the water; a swirl or a flat spot on the water signals a manatee may be swimming below.
If you see a manatee when operating a powerboat, remain a safe distance away -- about 50 feet. If you want to observe the manatee, cut the motor, but don't drift over the animal.
If you spot an injured, dead, tagged or orphaned manatee, or if you see a manatee who is being harassed, call 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) or #FWC or *FWC on your cellular phone or send a text message to Tip@MyFWC.com. You can also use VHF Channel 16 on your marine radio.
To obtain one of the public awareness banners, Florida boaters can contact Save the Manatee Club by calling toll-free 1-800-432-5646 or by sending an e-mail to email@example.com. Please give your name and address and the area in Florida where you will be boating.
The Sauls family, who enjoy boating and kayaking on Citrus County waterways, often use their yellow banner to slow boaters down whenever they see manatees.
reposted from http://www.savethemanatee.org/boatertips_banner.htm