FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 25, 2014
DEP AND JACKSONVILLE SHERIFF'S OFFICE WORK TO PROMOTE MANATEE AWARENESS
~Jacksonville Sheriff's Office places heavy emphasis on boating rules to protect manatees~
JACKSONVILLE – Today the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Northeast District joined the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Marine Unit at their Manatee Media Day. The event highlighted the importance of adhering to boating safety regulations in order to protect Florida's manatee population as the summer boating season begins to take off.
"The Northeast District supports the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit's efforts to promote awareness of both boating safety and manatee protection," said Matt Kershner, environmental manager for the Northeast District's Submerged Lands and Environmental Resources Program. "These and other initiatives will help increase public awareness about the Florida manatee and what boaters can do to protect these precious creatures."
The Florida manatee is the state's marine mammal. They take residence along Florida's entire Gulf and Atlantic coast, often wandering far inland in order to avoid the cooler coastal waters and to graze on rivergrasses. This can lead to a significant overlap between the location of manatee populations and popular boating areas. Without proper boater education, manatees are at risk of being injured or even killed by boat propellers.
Protecting the Florida manatee is critically important. Considered an endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Florida manatee is protected throughout the state by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Dozens of federal refuges and sanctuaries exist for the Florida manatee, including numerous in the Lower St. Johns River and greater Jacksonville area. To see the full list, click here.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Marine Unit patrols nearly 140 square miles of inland waterways conducting inspections, citing offenders and providing safe boating seminars, classes and speakers. The unit is continually educating local boaters on proper safety and regulations by offering pamphlets, community watch programs and partnering with DEP and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. To learn more, click here.