Those who have been on our tours are provided education about the manatee, the area of Lee County and Southwest Florida’s eco system…. making it more than just a boat ride! The importance of protecting the manatee and helping others to learn about and appreciate this wonderful creature is at the top of the list for why we got into the tour boat business. We have made an investment in our community, in the vessel in which we safely operate as well as the time and energy spent providing quality, fun and what we hope will be lasting memories for all on board.
As we glide along the Orange River and come to rest for a fantastic observation, we quietly set an anchor and watch, listen and enjoy all that nature provides. Manatees of all shapes and sizes can be seen, most with boat propeller scars. Guests will ask, why isn’t there a requirement that all boats have propeller guards (we do). And we provide an explanation. Earlier this week, we spent time at Crystal River, Florida and noticed that very few manatee’s had propeller scars, yet here in Lee County, it is often easier to count those who do NOT. How sad is that! Why does Lee County, Florida lead the state in the number of manatee propeller strikes and/or deaths due to a boat encounter? Why are so many people caught up in their own self-pleasure of going fast and disregarding slow speed zones as well as posted restrictions? Why do we witness people in kayaks smacking manatees in the head or along their body, not accidentally, on purpose. Why do some in kayaks and canoes take the line (rope) attached and try and lasso the manatee? Why do some feel the need to step out of their kayak and onto the back of a manatee?
Yes, all things we have witnessed here in Lee County Florida within the Orange River.
EDUCATION… encouragement to protect what we have before it is too late. Both crucial components to make a difference before the future generations miss out on the opportunity to enjoy these gentle giants.
-Kathy J. Cookman, BS, CSTR, CAISS, EMT-P,
FMNP, CWKR (CEO – Manatee & Eco River Tours)