NewsSarasota, Manatee County


Sarasota Police warn people to leave mating manatees alone

Posted at 9:09 PM, Aug 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-09 12:55:21-04

SARASOTA, Fla. — A herd of about 16 manatees that gathered near South Lido Beach for mating, has drawn a lot of attention from visitors.

"Manatees were always my mom’s favorite and she passed seven years ago so they’re very special to me," said Denise Paese who is visiting from Wisconsin and saw the manatees in the water while walking down the beach.

Sarasota Police said it's fine to observe the mating manatees, but officers said some people have been going into the water near them and trying to touch the manatees which is not only dangerous, but it’s illegal.

Stephannie Kettle, a MOTE Marine spokesperson said with a record number of manatees deaths last year, people need to respect the threatened animals and let them mate in peace by staying out of the water near them.

"Pursuing a manatee and altering its behavior to where it’s trying to leave you is considered harassment, and it's illegal," said Kettle.

RELATED: Manatee Club shares tips to protect beloved species in 2022 after record-breaking deaths in 2021

FWC said disturbing manatee mating herds, chasing manatees, feeding them, or doing anything to annoy the animal is considered harassment, and a person could be fined up to $100,000 and face jail time if convicted.

If you see someone harassing a manatee, Kettle said to call the police or FWC officers.

Kettle said it's best to observe the animals from a distance.

"Stand right on the beach and watch from there. They get really close sometimes and you’ll have a front row view to something really cool that happens in nature," said Kettle.

If you see a distressed/deceased manatee, call Mote’s 24 hr hotline for help 888-345-2335.