Florida manatees, despite their shape and appearance, do not have much blubber or fat, therefore manatees are dependent on external sources of heat. When temperatures begin to cool off, manatees begin their seasonal migration to warm-water refuges. Broward County is home to two warm-water refuges formed from the outflow of warm water at the FPL Lauderdale and Port Everglades Power Plants. Broward County can be the winter home for 20+% of Florida's manatee population. To ensure the protection of our beloved manatees, Broward County has a Manatee Protection Plan.
What is the Manatee Protection Plan?
The Manatee Protection Plan (MPP) is a federal and state-approved conservation plan designed to ensure manatees are adequately protected in a county's waterways while still providing for marine facility development. Broward is one of the initital 13 counties in Florida required to have an MPP, which was approved in 2008. The three key elements are Boating Safety, Education and Awareness, and the Boat Facility Siting Plan.
What is a Marine Facility Operating License?
Marine facilities with five or more slips are regulated by the MPP and required to have a Marine Facility Operating License (MFOL). This definition was recently expanded by County Ordinance to include single family homes with five or more slips. Tracking of the slip numbers ensures the County does not violate the approved number of slips in all of the designation waterways.
The MFOL fees fund all conservation components of the MPP and can only be used towards the conservation of manatess. These components include marine law enforcement, survey efforts, education and outreach items such as curricula for schools, brochures, and signage for marinas.
If you would like to request new signage for your marine facility or brochures for boaters, email us or call (954) 519-1471.
Any construction of docks, seawall, installations of floating vessel platforms, or any other structures constructed or installed in-water require an Environmental Resource License from Broward County. Licensing construction helps ensure that our vital and fragile resources such as corals, manatees, and sea grasses (manatees' major food source) are protected. To learn more about this program, click here: Broward's Environmental Resource Permitting.
I Spy A Manatee mobile app
You can assist Broward resource managers to better understand how manatees untilize our waterways by becoming a citizen-scientist and downloading the I Spy A Manatee mobile app (available for Android and Apple users) on your phone. In addition to actively participating in the conservation efforts, you can share your photos and view your location in relation to waterways speed zones. Additionally, from within the app, you can help report any distressed, injured, or dead manatees to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, all from within the app.
In the app, you can take a picture of the manatee or select a picture from the device's gallery. Enter the sighting information, such as the number of manatees and the manatees' activity, and either enter the location or let the device use the location services to find for you. When the sighting report is successfully submitted, the manatees of Broward County will thank you.
You can also view a map of the County's waterways with State-regulated Manatee Protection and Boating Safety zones with the app. With location services active, the map will display the mobile device's location on the waterway. Even without location services active, the map can still display a nearby location if the user provides a valid address. A legend can be accessed to provide an overall list of the Manatee Protection and Boating Safety Zones.
How can you help the gentle giants?
Here are some tips, whether you are a boater or wildlife viewer on land:
If you see a stranded or entrapped manatee, or one that looks a bit too skinny, call the FWC hotline right away at 888-404-3922 (FWCC). Stay with the manatee and provide as many details as possible (and photos) to the biologist.
Download the 'I Spy A Manatee' mobile app on your phone! View waterway speed zones, share your location and photos, and help report any injured manatees to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Share stories with your children about manatees by checking out books at your local library as manatee books may be on display at several libraries during the season. Also visit Save The Manatee Club's virtual manatee cam.
Don't water (or feed) the manatees! While they will gladly take a drink from a hose, it encourages them to approach docks and boats. Plus, it's illegal and can result in legal action.
If you like to jet-ski, water-ski or participate in high-speed watersports, choose areas that manatees do not or cannot frequent, such as land-locked lakes or waters well offshore.
Wear polarized sunglasses to help cut down on glare and see below the water's surface. When boating in shallow waters where seagrass may grow, so slow as manatees may be snacking below.
Before you start any type of construction over tidal waters, make sure you've contacted the Broward County Environmental Permitting Division's Aquatic and Wetland Resources Section about licensing requirements.
Fertilize less, or not at all. Help reduce pollution and harmful algal blooms from forming by utilizing Florida-Friendly NatureScapes.
Help keep trash out of the waterway by picking up litter on your walks or at clean up events. Manatees are curious creatures and can ingest floating pieces of plastic, Styrofoam, rope, fishing line, and any other small debris in the water. You can track your finds by downloading the 'Clean Swell' mobile app and contribute to the International Coastal Cleanup's annual data collection.