FWC News Release

April 2, 2008
Contact: Bonnie Abellera, 850-922-4330

Manatees are on the move as Florida waters begin to warm up, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) cautions boaters to be on the lookout for migrating manatees.
Manatees are especially vulnerable in spring and fall when they travel along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Kipp Frohlich, leader of the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management Section, said boaters can help manatees have a safe migration by staying in marked channels, wearing polarized sunglasses to improve vision, obeying posted boat speed zones, using poles, paddles or trolling motors when in close proximity to manatees and having someone help scan the water when under way.

During warm weather, some waterways will have more restrictive waterway speed zones. Boaters in Citrus, Hillsborough, Lee, Pinellas and Volusia counties should be aware of the speed zone changes in a few manatee habitat locations.

For more information about manatees, visit MyFWC.com/manatee/.

Warm weather speed zone changes (more restrictive - Slow Speed)

Citrus County

March 1 to August 31
Portion of the Withlacoochee River and portion of channel in Gulf leading to Withlacoochee River and Bennets Creek/East Pass area.

April 1 to August 31
Portion of Chassahowitzka River

Hillsborough County

April 1 to November 15
Portion of Old Tampa Bay, north of Courtney Campbell Causeway (SR 60)

Lee County

April 1 to November 15
Portions of Pine Island Sound, which includes Pelican Bay and the eastern side of Captiva from Redfish Pass to the south end of Buck Key. From St. James City wrapping around the western end of York Island to north of Galt Island. All of Hurricane Bay and most of Estero and Big Hickory Bays except for the marked channels and other speed zone areas.

Pinellas County

April 1 to November 15
Portions of Old Tampa Bay and Safety Harbor

Volusia County

April 1 to August 31
Portions of Tomoka River and Spruce Creek

Winter season speed zones still in effect:

Citrus County

Until April 30
Idle speed or slow speed – portions of Kings Bay. Slow speed – portions of the Homosassa River between the Salt River and Trade Winds Marina and southern portion of Halls River. Slow speed – all waters near the Florida Power Corporation’s effluent canal.

Dade County

Until April 30
No entry – portions of the Biscayne Canal, Little River and Coral Gables Canal. Slow speed – within portions of Meloy (or East) Channel and portions of the Intracoastal Waterway in Dumfoundling Bay and Biscayne Bay between Broad Causeway and Venetian Causeway.

Indian River County

Until April 30
Slow speed – within Sand and Shell islands area, Channel Marker 66 south to Channel Marker 75; Indian River area from Hobert Lodge Marina to North Canal, and from Channel Marker 156 south to St. Lucie County line west of the Intracoastal Waterway.

St. Lucie County

Until April 15
Slow speed – within Garfield Cut/Fish House Cove area.

Until April 30
Slow speed – within Intracoastal Waterway channel between North Beach Causeway south to Channel Marker 189 and within the Shark Cut Channel in the Ft. Pierce Inlet area.

Volusia County

Until April 15
Motorboats prohibited – Blue Spring Run. Slow speed – St. Johns River, south of Lake Beresford to Channel Marker 67.

Complete copies of individual county waterway rules are available at: http://www.flrules.org/ or MyFWC.com/manatee/data/mapref.htm or by contacting FWC at 850-922-4330.

Zone Definitions
Idle speed (No wake) – Lowest speed needed to maintain steering and make headway (speed used when docking a boat).

Slow speed (No excessive wake) – Fully off plane and completely settled in the water, not plowing.

This enables boats to move through an area with little or no impact to natural resources, shoreline erosion or other boaters.

Motorboats prohibited zone – Entry is prohibited for any vessel being propelled or powered by machinery.

No entry – No vessels or other human-related activities allowed.