The waters around Indian Creek Village are home to one of Florida's most unique creatures, the West Indian Manatee. Sadly, this gentle giant is endangered, largely due to collisions with pleasure boaters. The Department of Environmental Protection states that our success in saving this creature from extinction will depend on our ability to convince citizens of Florida of the need for continued compliance with regulations concerning vessel operation in restricted waters. In Florida, 54 manatees were killed as a result of collisions with watercraft in 1997.
Much of the waters in the Indian Creek Village PSD patrol area are restricted manatee zones. Regulations concerning vessel operation in these areas are somewhat complex, varying by season. The waterways were not well marked and as a result there were numerous manatee zone violations. The Department committed itself to a campaign to reduce the threat of boating collisions with these animals.
This effort involved three specific actions:
Ongoing citizen contacts with boaters distributing informational literature which identified the protected areas as well as explaining the consequences of manatee zone violations.
Identification of areas where signs were needed to help to properly identify zones; acquiring the signs from appropriate state agencies and installing and maintaining these markers.
Ongoing and regular enforcement of manatee zone laws, particularly during those periods where significant manatee presence existed.
ICVPSD personnel also respond to reports of manatee sightings involving sick, dead or injured manatees and have assisted in the removal from the water of dead or injured animals for study or treatment.
Through these efforts we have seen a major reduction in manatee zone speed violations in the JMPA waterways and, hopefully, a resultant reduction in deaths and injuries to these mammals.