Watch for Sea Turtles, Manatees

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With sea turtle and manatee sightings on the rise on Georgia’s coast, boaters should be on the lookout for these imperiled animals. Boat strikes are a leading cause of sea turtle strandings and manatee injuries and deaths.

Manatees and all sea turtle species found in Georgia are protected by federal and state laws.

Tips on what to watch for in the coast’s murky waters differ. A “footprint” of swirls may mark a 1-ton manatee underwater. A 300-pound loggerhead sea turtle may show only its head when it surfaces.

The best advice: Be aware, and be prepared to slow down or steer clear, on the ocean side of barrier islands and in tidal creeks and sounds!

Boaters who hit a manatee or sea turtle are urged to stand-by and immediately contact Georgia DNR at 800-2-SAVE-ME (800-272-8363). Also, please also report any dead sea turtles or live or dead manatees seen.

In 2012, 43 percent of the sea turtles found dead or injured on the beach or strand in Georgia had injuries consistent with being hit by a boat. The usual is about 25 percent.


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