November is Manatee Awareness Month and, as a native Floridian, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for these endangered creatures. I will go out of my way, even when time is fleeting on a given trip, to make my way over to The Seas pavilion to spend a few moments with the West Indian Manatees that call Walt Disney World home. There are plenty of engagement opportunities and Mr. Ray fact walls throughout the manatee corner of the pavilion to give you a bit more information on these beloved animals that can survive in fresh and salt water.
Today, in celebration and education of the manatees, here are a few of my favorite photos from a recent visit to Epcot, presented alongside a few facts from Save the Manatee Club.

“Manatee watercraft-related injuries and deaths continue to rise. It is the largest known cause of death from human activity and the greatest threat to their long-term survival. The boating public is urged to be on the alert for manatees since vessel operators are the only ones who can prevent strikes to manatees that often lead to serious injury or worse. Many seasonal manatee zones in Florida come into effect in November, and boaters should pay close attention to posted signage indicating slow or idle speeds. Waterway users should also keep their distance from migrating manatees or manatees congregated at warm-water sites during the winter to avoid possible harassment.”

“With winter approaching, manatees are also susceptible to cold stress. A severe, prolonged cold snap in Florida can be deadly to this subtropical species who cannot tolerate prolonged exposure to water temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Many manatees also die from red tide outbreaks. The protection and preservation of ample healthy aquatic habitat is essential to the well-being of the manatee population. The protection of Florida’s 700+ springs is not only vital to manatees, but to countless other wildlife species, and to humans. The health of a spring indicates the health of the underground aquifer, which supplies much of Florida with potable water.”

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