Outdoors: Beachgoers, boaters need to watch out for manatees

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Outdoors: Beachgoers, boaters need to watch out for manatees

Capt. Zach Zacharias, Correspondent Wednesday Jul 1, 2020 at 8:58 PM

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Mating season for the marine mammals coincides with Fourth of July weekend

With the 4th of July Weekend upon us there is bound to be a plethora of boaters, weather permitting, out on the water. Unfortunately, there will be a lot of manatees in the same vicinity.

The beginning of summer is also the kick-off of manatee mating season. Not many have witnessed this bizarre ritual as the sea cows usually seek out a remote shallow mangrove fringed mud flat. It is here where a number of lovesick males will drive a few females into inches of water for a mud wrestling session beyond belief. The process has been described in many different ways, most not fit for polite society.

Late last week a bunch of manatees chose to opt for the sandy beach of beer can island on the southwest side of Longboat Pass. True to marine mammal form, the manatees paid little attention to the hoards of voyeurs in every sort of vessel imaginable.

When porpoises gather to mate, they show a similar disregard for anything or anyone other than the task at hand. This dolphin ritual is something to behold as well.

My point is, not only does everyone headed out this weekend need to be extra vigilant for their own safety and that of others, on so many different levels. Hopefully this will include keeping an eye out for the manatees that are congregated near the passes and on the beaches right now.

The weather has been very calm lately and the water super clear, so the sea cows are very easy to see.There is plenty of water out there to spread out on, so folks, please be safe and take advantage of the wide open waters and avoid congregating in large groups.

Also use common sense dealing with the heat. Drink plenty of water, use sunscreen, wear a hat and light, loose clothing when out boating. There has been very little in the way of cloud cover lately along the coast to help shade you from the summer sun.

Make the best of challenging times and have a happy and healthy Fourth!

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