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Dec 15, 2017

Keep our manatees safe!

Safety for the manatees – that is what Sea to Shore Alliance and partners are asking for. The organization, along with the Forestry Department and the Port Authority, hosted the annual free one-day workshop to sensitize tour guides and boat operators on dos and don’ts when dealing with manatees or operating within manatee zones. Up to seventy-five tour-guides and boat captains received certificates at the end of the workshop sponsored by MarFund and Columbus Zoo. Organizer Jamal Galvez tells us more.


Jamal Galvez, Program Coordinator & Research Biologist, Sea to Shore Alliance

“It is a very important part of our efforts in making these tour guides and people that are on the waterways that are causing problems and aware of the problems and how they can actually make it better.”


Andrea Polanco

“What are some of the concerns that you are hearing in there from the boaters and the tour guides?”


Jamal Galvez

Jamal Galvez

“Mainly blaming anybody; pointing fingers at each other. But we have been monitoring these areas for a long time and we have seen the people that are traversing these areas. We video and use drones to video these areas and see the people in these areas. We see many operators speed. But the issue is not who is speeding, it is that we know there is speeding and it is a problem and we know that manatees are being killed by speeding boats, but the main issue here is how can we work together to fix it. They are cooperative and we have seen changes over the years that more tour guides we give the knowledge to and become certified we see that their behaviors change. But tourism is a growing industry and we have to keep our force up to ensure that we balance off the number of incidents and the tourism activities.”


Andrea Polanco

“Now, I see you have a presenter here talking about the wildlife act – how does this fit into the topic of safety for manatees?”


Jamal Galvez

“Forestry Department has the mandate for manatee. The manatees are protected under wildlife protection act and Forestry is the government authority for that mandate. They are presenting the Wildlife Protection Act on what are the dos and don’ts, the penalties so that they know what penalties are for their actions. So, we are trying to bring all the relevant authorities to present the relevant information for the operators. The Port Authority is going to present the maritime act and the penalties for not abiding to the no wake zones and not reporting the incidents. So, they are aware of the penalties and what are the dos and donts. I also presented on manatees – information that they can do on their tours and present to their guests to make their tours more complex and appealing; number of manatees that die every year; know the impact and the issues that manatees are facing – hoping that they will change their behavior. The goal isn’t to sit down and monitor people. The goal is for them to change their behaviors. Tourism is important to our economy and so does the environment. Conservation efforts can’t go without tourism and tourism can’t go without conservation. If we don’t conserve, there is nothing for tourists to see.”

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1 Response for “Keep our manatees safe!”

  1. Mike Green says:

    Enforcement of the relevant wildlife protection laws is the only way that will get these boat operators to slow down. Unfortunately, this seems to be a very difficult task to get GOB agencies to do. I deal with poachers on a weekly basis. It is my job. For the past four years we have been attempting to get the FD & PD to assist with our efforts and to-date we have received nothing but talk and meetings.

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