PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. – It is only nature at work, a Florida sheriff’s department said. So, deputies are asking residents to stop calling 911 if they see a herd of manatees near the shores of the state’s waterways.
According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, the gentle sea cows are not in distress near the shoreline — they are simply mating in the shallow waters, WFLA-TV reported.
The sheriff’s office posted a video to Facebook, with Marvin Gaye’s 1973 smash hit, “Let’s Get It On,” playing in the background.
“If you see this, don’t call us. They are more than fine. It’s mating season,” the sheriff’s office wrote in its post. “If you see this, no you didn’t. We get calls all the time from citizens when they see this, believing the manatees are in distress. We can assure you they are more than fine. Manatees actually mate in herds like these and often they are near the shore. They mate all throughout the year but generally mating herds like these are seen in the summer.”
According to the Manatee Swim Center in Crystal River, the manatee breeding season starts in March and April and runs through September. Approximately 10 to 15 manatees gather in shallow coastal waters to mate.
Mating manatees can be quite energetic, with the animals twisting and turning vigorously, according to Swimming With The Manatees.
But don’t mess with these normally gentle creatures. Manatees disturbed during the mating process can knock over or injure people, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Manatees are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978, the agency said. State law makes it illegal for anyone to “annoy, molest, harass, or disturb any manatee,” the FWC noted on its website.
In other words, leave the manatees alone. They are in the groove, as Marvin Gaye might have sung.
And stop calling 911.