Boating Safety Is Important For Manatees And Humans!

Over the weekend, Florida lost an icon: Snooty, the world’s oldest manatee in captivity, died a day after his 69th birthday. It appears that Snooty, who had been living at a facility in Bradenton since 1949, died after becoming trapped underwater in his enclosure. No foul play is suspected. Snooty lived a long, peaceful life, and he is already deeply missed.

Manatees, large and slow-moving aquatic mammals, are a common sight in Florida. They are usually found in shallow rivers and canals. Like the rest of us, they particularly love Florida during the winter. The average manatee is about 10 feet long and weighs between 800 and 1,200 pounds, but they are incredibly gentle creatures.

Unfortunately, manatees are also at risk. Prior to 2016, they were an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, but were recently reclassified as threatened due to population growth and habitat improvement. Still, 354 manatees have already died in 2017 in Florida, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission. Many of these deaths result from human activities, particularly boating. In fact, boating injuries account for 25% of manatee deaths each year.

Safe Boating Around Manatees

When a manatee comes into contact with a boat, common injuries include blunt force trauma and lacerations. If a boat directly hits a manatee, it may die immediately. In other instances, they can suffer from internal bleeding, chronic wounds, or an injury-related infection. Many of these deaths are accidents, but others occur when boaters do not obey posted speed signs, or behave recklessly around manatees.

To prevent injuries and deaths, boaters should be aware that they are sharing the waterways with these cute creatures. They can avoid hitting manatees by:

  • Obeying any posted speed zone signs
  • Staying in deep-water channels whenever possible, as manatees are more likely to stay in shallow waters
  • Avoiding shallow areas or areas with seagrass beds
  • Staying at least 50 feet away from manatees

Boaters should also take care to not throw any fishing hooks, lines, or other litter into the water. Manatees (and other aquatic animals) can ingest this debris, or become tangled. Avoid feeding manatees, because this can acclimate them to humans, and make it more likely than they will approach a boat.

When boating, avoiding speeding, obeying safety signs, and staying aware is always a good idea — safe boating prevents human injuries and property damage, and protects Florida’s manatees, too!


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.


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