The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is urging South Florida boaters to slow down for migrating manatees.
Like snowbirds, manatees are migrating to South Florida shores to avoid the cold weather. Water that dips to 68 degrees is enough to chill them – to death.
But fast-moving boats and propellers are the bigger danger in the region's waterways and canals.
“Boaters just don’t see them. They’re very slow, methodical movers,” FWC spokesman Jorge Pino said of the sea cows.
The FWC counted at least 88 manatee deaths related to watercraft collisions across the state in 2011.
FWC officers are enforcing no-wake zones. NBC 6 South Florida went for a ride on one boat around Pompano Beach Thursday, as the officers caught at least one boater off-guard. He appeared not to know that his quickly moving craft was in a manatee protection zone.
Slower speeds for longer times are in effect in such zones across South Florida for at least the next four months.
November is manatee awareness month, and a time when the marine mammals move to warmer refuges like canals, outflows from power plants and freshwater springs as water temperatures drop.