Guidelines For Swimming With Manatees
When you travel with us to go swimming with the manatees, we want you to know we take manatees very seriously. They are not pets. This is not an amusement park. Manatees are wild creatures and we respect their right to interact with us — or not.
Please adhere to the following rules. If you do not, we reserve the right to return you to shore immediately.
- When you enter the water, do so as quietly and as slowly as possible. Please try to limit the amount of splashing you do.
- Wait for the manatee to come to you. Do not swim to the manatee or “chase” or follow a manatee. Manatees are naturally curious creatures. If you are patient, chances are great a manatee will approach you.
- When you touch a manatee, do so with one hand only. Placing two hands on a manatee is considered “riding” the animal and is forbidden.
- Never try to “corner” a manatee or try to remove one or more manatees from its group. You’d never take a baby from its mother’s arms without permission. Likewise you must never try to separate a calf from its mother.
- The only thing that should touch the manatee is your hand. Some yahoos have thought it fun to take knives to the manatees skin, sometimes even carving their initials into the animal. Try it and just see if we, the police officer or the judge at your sentencing hearing shares in your amusement.
- Don’t disturb a manatee resting on the stream or river bottom. Manatees often stay at the bottom resting for up to 20 minutes. They do so in a position that looks odd to humans — they look as if they are doing a “face plant” with their snout and front flippers touching the river bottom — but it must be quite comfortable to the manatee, for they do it often.
- As we said before, wait for the manatee to come to you; don’t go to the manatee.
- The federal Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973 protect manatees from the foolishness of humans.
- Florida also passed the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act in 1978. Get caught and convicted of harassing, harming a manatee can get you a jail sentence of up to 60 days and a fine of up to $500.
- Please be aware that in addition to actually harming a manatee, feeding and giving manatees water can be construed as harassment.
- Get convicted of harming one of these wonderful creatures on the federal level and you could be spending up to one year in prison and paying a fine of up to $50,000.
Follow these rules and we know you — and the manatee — will have a wonderful “close encounter”.