ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — November marks the start of manatee season when everyone’s beloved sea cow migrates to warmer waters.

These aquatic mammals cannot endure water temperatures below 68 degrees for extended periods, which is why they seek refuge in Florida’s natural springs and warm-water discharge canals near power plants during the colder months, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The manatee is a federally protected animal and it’s against the law to harass, bother or feed them in the wild.

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Approximately 25 to 30 percent of manatee deaths statewide are attributed to watercraft accidents and collisions, according to FWC. In recent years, manatee deaths caused by blunt-force impacts (non-cutting) have outpaced manatee deaths caused by propeller cuts, with a small portion of the deaths/injuries attributed to both causes.

FWC advises boaters to slow down and use marked channels when boating.

If a boater does hit a manatee while boating, they can call 888-404-FWCC (888-404-3922). Cell phone users can also call *FWC or #FWC, or send a text to Tip@MyFWC.com.

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