Nature On Display: Local Nonprofit Reports Increased Sightings of Marine Wildlife Amid Pandemic

While South Floridians stay indoors to help combat the spread of COVID-19, marine wildlife are taking advantage of deserted waterways and beaches.

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Florida may be under a stay-at-home order, but the state’s marine wildlife doesn't seem bothered by the lack of human activity.

Dolphins, sharks, manatees and other marine animals are taking advantage of empty beaches and low boat traffic amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Dozens of sightings have been reported by Miami Waterkeeper, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving South Florida’s watershed. The organization is receiving increased reports of wildlife sightings as part of their “See a Fish, Send a Fish” campaign. 

“During this time of low boat traffic and little rainfall, our water has been noticeably clearer and bluer,” the organization said. “And while we're all taking a pause, many people are also connecting with the nature that's around them.”

Miami Waterkeeper is encouraging the public to report any marine life sightings by using the hashtags #miamimarinelife and #seeafishsendafish on social media. Sightings can also be e-mailed to the nonprofit organization.

So far, Miami Waterkeeper has received submissions of dolphins, turtles, sharks, manatees, rays and even a pair of endangered smalltooth sawfish, according to the website. 

Scientists believe the sighting of the endangered smalltooth sawfish was the first-ever video recording of a pair of smalltooth sawfish in Biscayne Bay.

The video, taken by local resident Scott Zeigler, will be used in an upcoming scientific publication, according to Miami Waterkeeper.

The organization stresses that reporting wildlife sightings will give scientists and researchers a better idea of wildlife population and location.

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