The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), with the support of several partner organizations, has begun a habitat restoration project focused on improving habitat for manatees in the downstream outflow of Warm Mineral Springs in the city of North Port, Sarasota County. This area is considered the most important natural manatee warm-water refuge along Florida’s southwest coast.
Dredging and bank stabilization within Warm Mineral Springs Creek is expected to improve manatee access to warm-water habitat during the colder months, increase the volume of warm-water habitat, remove excess sediment and restore the natural characteristics of the creek.
More than 125 Florida manatees have been documented using Warm Mineral Springs Creek as a refuge in the winter months.
“Improving manatee habitat is critical now more than ever as manatees along the Atlantic Coast are experiencing an Unusual Mortality Event,” said Maria Merrill with the FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Management. “While this project is on the opposite coast from the Unusual Mortality Event, the project directly benefits Florida’s manatee population by improving critically important warm-water habitat.”
In support of the restoration work, the FWC will be providing additional informational signs to the area to help reduce disturbance and harassment of manatees at this important warm-water habitat.
This project would not be possible without support from Florida’s Legislators and Governor Ron DeSantis, as well as agency partners including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sarasota County Government, The Nature Conservancy, Coastal and Heartland National Estuary Partnership, the City of North Port, the National Wildlife Federation and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation.