Manatees in spotlight at FPL’s lagoon in Riviera Beach

Published: Nov. 18, 2023 at 1:30 PM EST
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They’re vital to our ecosystem and the species that live in it.

We're talking about our favorite marine mammal: the Florida manatee.

The manatee season officially started, and Florida Power & Light held their free family-friendly celebration at Manatee Lagoon in Riviera Beach. The season lasts from Nov. 15 to March 31 when local waters may drop below 68 degrees.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, families enjoyed food trucks, a kids' play and activity zone, and lots of exhibits, including new educational programs.

There were three life-size manatee statues, a seagrass exhibit and Florida mangroves exhibit.

The first 400 visitors received a free waterproof phone pouch with information on how to report a manatee in distress if seen in the wild.

Manatee Lagoon.PNG
Manatee Lagoon.PNG

Manatees used to be endangered and even though their population is slowly returning, they face a lot of threats including red tide, cold weather, habitat hazards like fishing lines and boats, and other human situations.

"Mantees usually hang out in shallow water, which is why they have so many conflicts with boaters because they like to use the same areas as we do," Rachel Shanker, the conservation and education manager at Manatee Lagoon, said. "Their favorite food is seagrass and that is going to grow in shallow water. That sunlight can reach the bottom.

"They're usually in about 6 feet of water."

Florida manatees gather in the warm-water outflows of FPL's Next Generation Clean Energy Center, which was built shortly after FPL modernized this natural gas plant in 2016.

"We hope to inspire visitors to want to conserve and protect these animals through education, so we hope to teach everyone about them and what we can all do to help," Shanker said.

The theme Saturday was Manatee Moment. Visitors shared their manatee moments on social media with a fun filter and the "Manatee moment" hashtag.

You too can share moments that you see in the wild by going to the Lagoon's Instagram page.

Scripps Only Content 2023