Guidelines For Swimming With Manatees
It is imperative that patrons interested in swimming with the manatees understand that their personal safety and the manatees health is our primary concern.
- Manatees are wild animals, not pets, and we are entering their habitat, not an amusement park. As such, it is essential we respect their right to choose whether they wish to interact with us.
- Manatees are protected by state and federal laws. Their interests are safeguarded by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978.
- Anyone who intentionally or negligently harasses, molests, annoys or disturbs a manatee is liable to get a criminal conviction, fine of up to $500 and a possible jail sentence up to 60 days. Harassment is defined as any act of pursuit, torment or annoyance which has the potential to either injure or disrupt the manatee’s behavior patterns.
- A federal conviction for harming a manatee can lead to a $50,000 fine and up to a year of jail time.
We impose rules and company guidelines for behavior to ensure these laws are not violated and to promote safety, security and enjoyment for all. Failure to comply with our rules will result in the immediate termination of your swimming session and immediately being returned to shore. Please take note of, and adhere to, the following:
- Enter the water as slowly and quietly as possible and without splashing water excessively
- Wait for manatees to come to you. Their natural curiosity makes it unlikely you will have to wait a long time
- Do not swim toward, follow or chase any manatee. Do not do anything to separate a manatee from its group
- Do not touch any manatee with anything apart from your hand. When you do so, use one hand only. Touching with two hands simultaneously is forbidden as it is considered to be riding
- Manatees are prone to resting on stream or river beds for up to 20 minutes at a time. The position they adopt – with snout and flippers touching the bed – can look uncomfortable, but we can assure you it is not. In any event, do not approach or otherwise engage with a manatee whilst it is resting
- Do not provide food or drink to any manatee as this can be interpreted as a form of harassment
We hope you will understand these rules are not in place to make things difficult for you or limit your enjoyment but chiefly to insure manatees are not unfairly impacted by the people entering their environment.
We appreciate the intense attraction of getting up close and personal with these awe-inspiring animals but we just want to make sure everyone understands that all interactions need to take place on the manatees’ terms, not ours.
As we mentioned, these gentle giants are just as interested in us as we are in them, so with patience you will find they come over to you to investigate and see what you’re about.
So, stick to our simple rules to get to the very best from your manatee tour!