‘If you see a manatee mating herd, observe respectfully from a distance. Do NOT touch’, say Sarasota police
Beachgoers at South Lido Beach, Sarasota, were seen trying to touch the mammals while they engaged in a group mating session known as a “manatee ball”, the Sarasota Police Department said in a post on social media on Sunday.
“We spotted manatees mating near South Lido Beach Sunday. Folks were trying to touch them,” Sarasota police said.
“If you see a manatee mating herd, observe respectfully from a distance. Do NOT touch.”
According to Livescience.com, manatees are sexually active for most of the year.
We spotted manatees mating near South Lido Beach Sunday. Folks were trying to touch them. Please don’t. @MoteMarineLab: If you see a manatee mating herd, observe respectfully from a distance. Do NOT touch. If you see a distressed/deceased manatee, call Mote’s hotline 888-345-2335 pic.twitter.com/UI5jMcNzrY
— Sarasota Police Department (@SarasotaPD) August 7, 2022
They typically form “mating herds”, where up to a dozen males will circle a female before she chooses which bull to mate with.
These mating sessions can last for as long as two to four weeks, according to Livescience.
Manatees are listed as “vulnerable” under the Endangered Species Act, and it is illegal to touch or harass the large marine mammals, which are also known as sea cows.
Last year, more than 1,000 manatees died in Florida, according to figures released by the the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
More than half of the deaths were due to starvation, 103 were due to incidents with watercraft, and seven were caused by humans in rope entanglements or poaching, CBS News reported.
The record number of deaths were classified as an “unusual mortality event” by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The state wildlife department said poor water quality had caused the spread of harmful algal blooms.
The NOAA says understanding the unusually large number of deaths is crucial because it gives an indication of ocean health.
Florida’s manatee population now stands at around 6,000, according to the Save the Manatee non-profit.
The marine seagrasses that manatees survive on are being threatened by the impacts of the climate crisis, Save the Manatee says.