Manatees are warm-weather visitors to the South Carolina coast. As water temperatures rise during the summer months, these gentle giants, which can weigh up to a ton, make their way up the coast and can sometimes be seen along docks in the Lowcountry.
Sightings can be difficult in South Carolina due to the murky waters, making sightings all the more exciting. However, it is this difficulty which creates a greater hazard for manatees and boaters alike. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources would like to remind boaters to be vigilant and particularly alert while on the water. One of the main hazards manatees experience are boat propellers. In fact, the problem is so frequent among the species along the southeastern coastline that propeller scars are used to identify individual manatees.
Boats are more likely to harm manatees in shallow waters, especially around docks and marsh edges where manatees like to graze. To avoid collisions, DNR recommends staying alert, following safe boating practices and going slow in these areas. Also, keep an eye out for the backs, tails and snouts of the manatee at the surface of the water.
Additionally, DNR would also like the assistance of local manatee witnesses in documenting the population. Because of the murky nature of the local waters, it is near impossible to know the South Carolina, seasonal populations with any certainty. To help local manatees, report sightings to SCDNR and provide photographs if possible.
Manatee reports can be made by calling 843-727-4707, ext. 205. Photos can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Report any dead or injured manatees immediately by calling 800-922-5431.