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Summer Boating Safety for Manatees and Boaters Alike

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

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Save the Manatee Club is proud to be a partner of National Safe Boating Week, the official launch of the 2021 Safe Boating Campaign. This yearlong campaign promotes recreational boating safety, such as wearing life jackets and not boating while under the influence of alcohol. Save the Manatee Club also uses the campaign to remind boaters of manatee-safe boating tips.

During the summer, manatees are found in shallow estuaries, bays, rivers, canals, and coastal areas throughout Florida and in neighboring states – most commonly Georgia, South Carolina, and Alabama. Because imperiled manatees are generally slow-moving and must surface to breathe air, they are especially vulnerable to collisions with fast-moving watercraft. Boat accidents are the primary cause of human-related manatee deaths. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), most manatee deaths from watercraft collisions are caused by blunt-force impact, meaning that the speed at which boaters are traveling are causing strikes with deadly force. Those manatees that survive bear scars from their injuries. In fact, most living manatees have some sort of scar from a boat collision.

These tragic accidents are preventable with education, awareness, and the care of the boating community. Posted slow speed “manatee zones” indicate the likely presence of manatees and should be navigated through carefully. Boater’s guides usually list the location of manatee zones and can be reviewed before each boat trip. In addition to obeying posted speed zones, those on board should keep a lookout for manatees in the water by wearing polarized sunglasses to see below the water’s surface, and scanning for manatees’ snouts, backs, tails, flippers, or “footprints” – the flat, circular spot on the water created by the manatee’s moving tail. Following these tips, along with the Safe Boating Campaign’s guidelines, can help keep both boaters and manatees safe.

Boaters, paddlers, or those who spend time near the water are also encouraged to be a voice for manatees by immediately reporting injured, malnourished, orphaned, entangled, stranded, or dead manatees to the FWC or their local state wildlife officials. Manatees that have fresh pink or red wounds, are breathing more often than every 30 seconds, or are unable to submerge or tilting to one side, may be injured and should be reported. Boaters should not attempt to remove entanglements, such as monofilament fishing line, crab trap lines, or other marine debris, from manatees themselves – instead, they should report them so a trained biologist can assess the situation. In Florida, boaters can contact VHF Channel 16 on their marine radio or call the FWC at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922). Learn more tips on spotting and reporting sick or injured manatees at savethemanatee.org/rescue.

Save the Manatee Club offers a number of free materials available upon request to help safeguard manatees and increase awareness of manatee-safe boating tips. Shoreline property owners as well as park and marina managers can order aluminum signs alerting others to the presence of manatees in the area. And boaters and paddlers can request packets that include a safety tips card, a waterproof boat banner, and a decal to adhere to your vessel with the number to report manatees in distress. Order free materials at savethemanatee.org/resources.

Join Save the Manatee Club on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter to learn more and get involved.

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Blogs

Top 5 Party Guests: The Magic of Night Diving in Cozumel

American DTA Team

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A blog by Pro Dive International

*Header image: On the day of our planned night dive at the Allegro Cozumel, we had to reschedule, as any water activity during thunderstorms and lightning is considered dangerous. We still thought it was worth sharing this breathtaking spectacle with you.*


Have you ever gazed out at the open ocean at night wondering what happens down there as the sun disappears over the horizon and darkness sets in? If all marine life will be sleeping, or if there’s anything creeping along the reefs?

Here’s what really happens, including a list of our Top 5 Party Guests that make you want to add night diving in Cozumel to your bucket list.

Brief Overview

While the Caribbean Sea is not calming down at night due to the effectively constant trade-winds in the tropics that drive ocean wave trains and cause waves to break throughout day and night, a vibrant party under the sea is just about to begin, as huge basket stars unfurl their arms into the night, parrotfish create their mucus bubble beds, giant lobsters, king crabs and octopus prepare for hunt, and bioluminescence sparkles up the scene.

TOP 5 Party Guests

1. Basket Stars

These sea stars can only be observed in their true glory at night when they unfurl their many branched arms into the darkness to filter food from the water. Some reach nearly a meter in size! Shine your torch on them and watch them curl their huge arms back towards their mouths as they eat the small creatures attracted by your light.

The perfect party costume, do you agree?

Basket Star by Elizabeth Maleham @Pro Dive International

2. Cephalopods – Octopus & Squid

These fascinating creatures are rarely spotted during day dives, but at night you can see them out and about hunting the reef for their next meal. Watch as they move about changing colors and patterns in the blink of an eye! Below is a picture of an octopus spreading its body wide over the reef like a net to encircle its prey.

Did you know that octopuses were that colorful?

Octopus by Elizabeth Maleham @Pro Dive International

3. Crustaceans

Safely tucked away in the back of a crevice during the day, these creatures venture out under the cover of darkness to hunt. A fantastic opportunity to finally get a close-up look at all those king crabs and plenty of lobsters you have only seen as small eyes peering out from the back of a cave.

Up for a dance?

Crab by Elizabeth Maleham @Pro Dive International

4. Parrotfish

Many fish only half sleep, needing to be alert to the dangers 24/7, but parrot fish have evolved an ingenious warning system so they can get their eyes shut. As night draws in, they find a nook to rest in and start to create a mucus like a bubble encircling their whole bodies. They can rest safely in this for the entire night, but if anything disturbs this veil, they are off like a shot into the dark!

How did this sleepy guy make it into our Top 5?

Parrotfish in Cozumel by Guillermo Reta @Pro Dive International

5. Bioluminescence

For those not familiar with this natural phenomenon, bioluminescence is a chemical process which allows living creatures like plankton, tiny crustaceans, some fish, squid and algae to produce light in their body to either attract prey, confuse predators, or lure potential mates.

As the bioluminescent sea will glow when it’s disturbed by a breaking wave or a splash in the water at night, for most of our divers the best part is covering up the torches and waving our arms about disturbing the bioluminescence into sparkling blue points of light.

This makes the perfect party glitter!

Bioluminescence @Dreamstime


Already in a party mood? Pack your dive gear!

How to join the underwater party in Cozumel?

  1. Join Pro Dive International’s Cozumel Night Dives as a certified diver.
  2. Boost your skills and make your night dive one of the 5 Adventure Dives of the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course.
  3. Contact us for guidance.


Contact:

reservations@prodiveinternational.com

www.prodiveinternational.com/contact-us

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Blogs

Turtles of the Riviera Maya & Cozumel

American DTA Team

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A blog by Pro Dive International

Plenty of empty shells of recently hatched turtle eggs were spotted by our divers at Sabalos. They had been washed off shore onto the reef after the baby turtles had dug out of their nest at night and swam off into the sea.

The turtle nesting season on the Riviera Maya and in Cozumel happens between May and October, which means that you may be lucky to see some nests or even hatchlings during your stay with us.

Six out of the seven sea turtle species worldwide visit Mexico every year. We are lucky enough to get to see Green Turtles and Loggerhead Turtles regularly during our dives, as they are in search of food and a good clean.

The reefs and ecosystems here provide a great number of tasty snacks for a turtle, for example seagrass, sponges, crustaceans and many more. And while the turtles pass through the reef, they receive a top-notch cleaning service from many of the local fishes who feed on their parasites and algae growth.

6 Turtle Fun Facts

  1. Green turtles are so named because of their green colored fat caused by their rich diet of seagrass.
  2. Green Turtles are the largest hard-shell turtles in the world. The largest known green turtle weighed 395 kg/ 871 lbs, with a shell that measured more than 152 cm/ 5 ft.
  3. Loggerhead Turtles are so named for their massive broad muscular heads.
  4. Adult males are normally easy to distinguish from females because of their long tails visible extending past their shell.
  5. Female turtles normally return to the exact same location where they were born to lay their eggs.
  6. The sex of a baby turtle is determined by the temperature at which the egg is kept.

Turtles are regular visitors to many of our dive sites, but they are most commonly found at Tortuga – this dive site is even named turtle in Spanish! It’s located just off shore from our dive center at the Occidental Xcaret and easily accessible by boat from any of our Playa Del Carmen locations.

Moreover, for those of you who are not divers, we are lucky enough to have some extensive seagrass beds where green turtles love to hang out and eat, which is an easy snorkel off shore during one of our tours with a guide who is licensed to enter those protected areas.

Turtle Locations

Besides observing them underwater, you may be lucky to find some turtle nests in front of your resort on the Riviera Maya or in Cozumel. Hotel employees usually rope them off to ensure their protection.

Turtle conservation projects are a great alternative to learn more about their behaviors, importance for the marine environment, how you can help protect them, and to observe nests or turtles first hand:

Turtle Protection

Every sea turtle species on earth nests on Mexico’s beaches (save one that is only found in Australia). Consequently, Mexico is known as the sea turtle capital of the world and its turtle protection laws are so important on a global scale.

Current Mexican law classifies all sea turtle species as endangered.

Regulations

  • Turtles can’t be killed for their meat, skin, shell or eggs.
  • Native vegetation can’t be removed in nesting habitats, to stop erosion.
  • New regulations call for moving, changing or eliminating any light sources that illuminate a nesting beach, as baby turtles can become disoriented from finding their way to the ocean.
  • Vehicles can have a maximum weight of 300 kg on nesting beaches and only be used for patrolling and management of the nesting site.
  • Recently outlawed were turtle release events, as many places kept the hatchlings in confinement for several days until a sufficient number of participants had signed up for this activity. Upon release, they were too weak to handle the surf and avoid predators.

All of these and many more regulations help protect beaches, nests, female sea turtles, their eggs and hatchlings to make it a safer place for them.

How to start your Turtle Adventure

Let’s discover some turtles together during our dives! If you are not a diver, why not sign up for a PADI course; or join our Mexican Snorkeling Adventure at 15% OFF starting from Playa del Carmen or Tulum, if booked online until 16/09/21 & redeemed until Dec 22, 2021 with reference to this blog!

Contact:

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