With manatees and sea turtles now widespread in Georgia’s coastal waters, boaters should be on the lookout for these big and rare animals.
Boat strikes are a leading cause of sea turtle strandings and manatee injuries and deaths. Manatees and all sea turtle species found in Georgia are protected by federal and state laws.
Tips on what to watch for in the coast’s murky waters differ. A “footprint” of swirls may mark a 1-ton manatee underwater. A 300-pound loggerhead sea turtle may show only its head when it surfaces.
The best advice: Be aware, and be prepared to slow down or steer clear.
Heeding low-speed and no-wake zones, particularly around docks where manatees eat algae growing on the structures, will reduce collision risks. So will sticking to the main channels when boating in tidal rivers and creeks.
Boaters who hit a manatee or sea turtle or sees ones that are dead or injured are urged to stand-by and immediately contact the DNR at 800-2-SAVE-ME (800-272-8363).