It is easy to do something nice for Florida manatees and sea turtles. Check the box for manatees or sea turtles on the form you receive in the mail to renew your annual registration of cars, boats and trucks.
When you check the box, you are donating $5 to the funds supporting conservation of these popular Florida wildlife species. You will receive one or both of the new Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) decals featuring manatees and sea turtles, depending on how many boxes you check. They are available as of July 1.
“Your $5 donation for a manatee or sea turtle decal does a lot,” said Carol Knox, leader of the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management Section. “Your decal donation supports research, rescue, rehabilitation, conservation, management and education efforts on behalf of Florida manatees and sea turtles. By getting these decals, you can help conserve these species for future generations. Plus decals are a fun way to display your support of some very special Florida wildlife.”
The message of this year’s manatee decal: “Give them space.” It is what you should do when encountering manatees while paddling through Florida waters on a kayak, canoe or paddleboard. You can help conserve them by keeping your distance and giving these large, slow-moving mammals space to surface, breathe and move freely within their habitats, which include shallow areas, seagrass beds and sanctuaries.
The new sea turtle decal features the hawksbill, Florida’s most tropical sea turtle. Hawksbills are found primarily on reefs in the Florida Keys and along the state’s southeastern Atlantic coast. An endangered species, the hawksbill was sought after in the past to use its beautifully patterned shell for jewelry, hair ornaments and other decorative items. Though use of its shell is banned in most of the world, it still is possible to find such goods, so please don’t buy them.
Floridians can donate the $5 to receive a decal when registering a vehicle or vessel, or when renewing a registration through the mail, online or in person at county tax collectors’ offices across the state. Visitors or individuals from out of state interested in the decals can order them online by going to MyFWC.com/Manatee or MyFWC.com/SeaTurtle and clicking on “Decals.”
Purchasing the “Save the Manatee” and “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” Florida license plates at BuyaPlate.com also helps protect these species.