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Manatees and the law

Manatees are protected under the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978, which designates the entire state as a manatee haven and permits the establishment of boat-speed regulations in manatee habitats. Manatees also are federally protected under the U.S. Marine Mammal Act of 1972 and the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973. It is illegal to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, annoy or molest manatees. Anyone who breaks the state law faces maximum fines of $500 and/or up to 60 days in prison. Federal lawbreakers face up to $20,000 in fines and/or one year in prison.

To report manatee deaths, injuries or harassment, call the Florida Marine Patrol at 1-800-DIAL-FMP.

Sources: Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; the Florida Department of Natural Resources

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