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Your Yak Or Mine? June 2010

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On: Mon, May 24, 2010 at 5:57PM | By: Mel The Guide

Hi, everyone. You can come out now. All, or most, of the snowbirds have gone home. The restaurants and shopping malls are empty. The cold weather is behind us and the waterways are like a sheet of glass. However the big blast of cold did have its impact on the fish and manatee population. They were not ready for the coldest cold snap in 28 years. We lost a lot of Snook, Bream, and Catfish. However, the Reds did well. One of my kayak-fishing clients snagged a 30-incher in the mangroves the other day, on shrimp. We have been seeing a lot of mid-sized Snook. Don’t forget the season for them is closed, Maybe it won’t be long before they get the stock numbers back up where we can go out and get a few fish.
    Unfortunately, I have to let you know, as of this writing, we did lose 420 manatees, and I am afraid there will be more that won’t make it because of the shocking cold.

Skip and I were out with a large group on our sunset/full moon tour and we spotted a large manatee on the edge of the
mangroves. I led the group away from the scene as Skip paddled over to check it out. Sad to say the manatee’s lifeless body was floating high up out of the water, stuck in the roots of the red mangroves. The body did not look like it had any trauma or had been struck by
anything. There are a few ways this manatee could have come to its demise.

One is red tide. Manatees are mammals just like us and they breathe and need fresh air. Have you ever been at the beach when we have red tide??? You start to choke and can’t catch your breath. Can you imagine being nose deep in this stuff??

Next is structure death. I am talking about dams, locks, and dredging barges. When the dam master closes the locks large steel doors close to hold back the water. If the manatee doesn’t look out it can be caught between the lock doors as they close. When dredging barges are sucking up sand or working on sea walls the manatees get up under them. They don’t move out when the tide changes and are then stuck and crushed. We have been working on this problem for some time now and seem to have come up with some thing that works. Now have underwater bells and vibrating alarms that sound as the lock doors close and as the barges sink in the low tide, in hopes the manatee will move on.

In addition, another way to lose manatees is when motors from boats cut them up, and they die. No, No, No! This is not true. Even though you may think so the props of a boat are only about three-inches long. The manatee is fat and has a lot of meat on his back. Yes, you will see scars on their backs. But more than likely it will not kill them.

What will kill them is the boat smashing into them and breaking ribs. If their ribs get broken, their lungs could be punctured and then they will not be able to breathe or go down to the bottom and eat.

Last, but not least, is cold. Manatees are Floridians, they don’t like the cold. That is why they come to Matlacha in November and stay until April. The back bay’s water is shallow and holds the heat. If it gets too cold they can’t take it, and they stop eating, and don’t move around much, and, eventually, the cold will kill them.

That all said, get a pen and paper out and/or cut this out. Here are a few phone numbers you, as a fellow kayaker, may need some day.

Who do you call list?

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC)
888-404-FWCC (3922)
Abandoned Traps
Feeding Wildlife
Litter - Direct
Monofilament in Quatity
Wildlife Injury
Mote Marine
Karen Nierburg
Algae Blooms & Fish Kills
Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP)
Illegal Dumping
Litter - Direct
Oil & Fuel Spills
Seagrass Scarring
Vessel Grounding
Center For Aquatic & Invasive Plants
Invasive Species: Plants & Animals

When you do report an item, please have GPS markings or a good landmark so the field officers can find the reported problem.

Well, we have to go now. We have another Nature tour to go out on and it looks like another great day in Mat-La-Sha. Thanks for paddling with Mel the Guide.

Gulf Coast Kayak is open all year 24/7
941 661 8229 239 283 1125 for rentals
or to book a tour with Mel, the Guide

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