Why do manatees visit Manatee Park?
Biologists believe the historic winter range of the manatee was centered in southern Florida with small groups spending the winter at a few natural springs in northern Florida. The construction of power plants along major waterways and the loss of natural habitat caused a shift in manatee distribution. Winter herds now congregate around 20 warm-water sources including six natural hot springs.
Who owns and operates Manatee Park?
Lee County Manatee Park is managed by Lee County Parks and Recreation with the support of a number of partners organization:
· Florida Power & Light owns the park and provides support for educational material.
· U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service through the J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge provides staff assistance and educational materials.
· The Florida Department of Environmental Protection provides research, educational materials and training to both park employees and volunteers.
· Citizens of Lee County provide time and expertise as volunteer naturalists.
· Various civic organizations provide physical and monetary support for ongoing promotion of information for visitors from around the world.
· You, the visitor, provide your time to educate yourself about the continued need for your involvement in habitat protection for the preservation of endangered species.
We want to extend our thanks to all of those involved with this educational endeavor," For People, for Wildlife, Forever."
How long have manatee been in Florida?
Manatee fossils as old as 1 million years have been found in Florida. Prehistoric native peoples of Florida use ceremonial pipes in the shape of manatees and manatee bones, and such items have been found at ancient native sites in southeastern Florida. Christopher Columbus recorded a signing of three manatees in his log during his trip to the New World in 1493. Writers in the early 1800s suggest that manatee were 'remarkable abundant'. Pioneers, who arrived during the 1800s often shot manatees for meat, oil and hides. In 1893, laws in Florida made the hunting of manatees illegal. The first report of manatee deaths because of collisions with watercraft was in 1943.
The Florida Manatee was once thought to be the same as the West Indian manatee. Although the two types of manatees are very closely related, the Florida is a sub-species of the West Indian manatee found in the Caribbean. The name "West Indian manatee" often causes questions and confusion as to the origin of the manatees found here in the state of Florida.
Why shouldn't people feed or water the manatees?Feeding and attracting manatees is illegal under state and federal laws. Manatee fed human food may suffer health problems. Manatees may also grow accustomed to receiving food from humans, losing their natural fear and may begin approaching boats and docks looking for handouts, thereby increasing their chances of being injured. Enjoy manatees from a distance.
What can I do to help support manatee protection?
· Be a safe boater and educate others about the manatee in Florida waters.
· Practice 'passive observation' and watch manatee from a distance.
· Resist the urge to give manatee food or water.
· When swimming or diving practice "look but don't touch."
· "Stash your trash," Discard monofilament fishing line, hooks, and other trash.
· Adopt a manatee through the Save the Manatee Club.
· Volunteer to educate others at a facility such as Lee County Manatee Park.
· Call 1-888-404-FWCC if you see an injured, dead, tagged, or orphaned manatee or if you witness manatee harassment.