TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission is increasing boat patrols to keep manatees safe, as 89
have been killed by watercraft-related injuries so far in 2019.

According to FWC numbers, 122 manatees were killed by watercraft in all of 2018.

Across the Tampa Bay area, 16 manatees have been killed by watercraft.

FWC confirmed in a media release Wednesday they are “increasing
patrols in strategic areas of the state to enhance manatee conservation and
public safety.”

ZooTampa cares for many manatees with boat strike injuries
at their Manatee Critical Car Center.

“A couple things we’ll see is
outward wounds, but also a lot of the damage is internal. So they’ll have
collapsed lungs, bleeding internally, so there’s a number of things that boat
strikes can do that are harmful to manatees,” said staff veterinarian Dr.
Lauren Smith.

A representative for FWC told 8 On Your Side, “we strategically assign officers statewide depending upon
what is going on during a given weekend, season, etc.”

FWC could not confirm exactly where enhanced
patrols will take place, but said in the release Lee, Brevard and Volusia
counties have reported higher numbers of boat strikes on manatees.

As of July 9, 324 manatees have died in Florida. Last year saw a total of 824 deaths.

Boaters can do their part in
manatee conservation by following posted speed zone signs, wearing polarized
sunglasses to be able to see manatees more easily and avoiding boating over
seagrass beds and shallow areas.

report an injured or distressed manatee, call FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at

To learn more about manatee fatalities so far this year, click here.

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