There are more manatees and sea turtles in Florida than in any other state. More than 6,000 manatees swim in its coastal waters, rivers and freshwater springs, and thousands of sea turtles nests and hatch on its Atlantic and Gulf coast beaches.
It’s easy to show support for these iconic Florida species by sticking on a decal.
Every July the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) introduces new manatee and sea turtle decals available with a $5 donation.
The colorful, waterproof decals are designed to look great on a vehicle’s bumper or the side of a boat. Get them when registering or re-registering a vehicle or boat at local tax collectors’ offices across the state.
“Florida is home to more manatees and sea turtles than anywhere else in the U.S.,” said Carol Knox, who leads the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management Section. “Public support has been critical in helping us conserve these imperiled species. So please ‘stick on a decal’ and show support for our manatees and sea turtles.”
Decals generate funding for research, rescue and management efforts that help Florida’s manatees and sea turtles survive. For instance, when someone calls the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) to report an injured, entangled or sick manatee or sea turtle, FWC staff responds with efforts to rescue and rehabilitate the animal.
The decals also address important conservation issues:
• “Look out for manatees” is the message on the new manatee decal, which shows boaters in the distance as a manatee mother and calf swim along with only her back above water.When boating or using a personal watercraft in Florida waters, it is important to look out for manatees. Mature manatees grow to 1,000 pounds or more, but can be difficult to see when they’re swimming, grazing or resting underwater. Wear polarized sunglasses, and then watch and listen carefully to detect the signs of manatees nearby. Look for circles on the water’s surface indicating their underwater movement and snouts sticking out of the water as they surface to breathe. You may also hear huffing noises when they come up for air.
• “Helping sea turtles survive” is the message on the new sea turtle decal, which shows a green sea turtle. Green sea turtles nest on Florida’s Atlantic and Gulf coast beaches, and until recently were classified as endangered. Now after years of conservation efforts, the number of nesting green turtles has increased substantially. This species has been reclassified as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. That’s a major step in “green” recovery. Remember, “Hands off” is the best policy for beachgoers encountering any species of nesting or hatchling sea turtles. Watch from a distance, do not disturb them and never use a cellphone or camera to shoot flash photos.
Learn about other ways to help conserve manatees and sea turtles at MyFWC.com/Manatee andMyFWC.com/SeaTurtle, where you also can click on “Decals” to order new or past editions of decals. Go to BuyaPlate.com to purchase a “Save the Manatee” or “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” license plate that supports those species.