2017 was Florida's third highest year for boaters hitting manatees

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PHOTO VIA FWC
  • Photo via FWC
Florida's manatees population is growing, and along with that is the mortality rate.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recently reported Florida had a total of 538 manatees die in 2017. This number has risen since slightly from 2016, with 520 reported.

Watercraft have attributed to 106 of those deaths, making it the third highest cause of death for manatees, which includes propeller wounds, impact and crushing, according to the FWC. 2017 was the third worst year in Florida history for boat-related manatee deaths.

Only three manatee deaths occurred in Seminole County in 2017.

However, deaths have risen greatly within the last decade. In 2007, 73 out of a total 317 manatee deaths were caused by watercraft.

Last year, the manatees were reclassified from endangered species to "threatened" species under the Endangered Species Act.

Boaters can help decrease deaths by being "aware and be prepared on the waterways," according to the FWC. They suggest using propeller guards appropriately and slowing down speeds giving manatees enough time to move.

Tips can be found on the FWC website in an effort to save Florida's manatee population.