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Having a Cow Over Manatees

A manatee surfaces for air at the 2022 Miami International Boat Show

A manatee surfaces for air at the 2022 Miami International Boat Show

For boat buyers and boating journalists, boat shows are an opportunity to sea trial new products. But at this past weekend’s Miami International Boat Show, manatees caused a bit of a stir. Sea cows showed up at the Sea Isle Marina, the designated marina for the test rides, causing some delays and angst among boat brokers eager to show off their latest products.

Concerns about boats colliding with manatees, or disrupting feeding and nursing, almost cost the 2022 show its permits for on-water tests drives. Instead, show organizers agreed to a manatee-monitoring operation. Two of the three proposed sea-trial routes were eliminated, and show organizers agreed to halt boat traffic until a manatee swam away or could not be spotted for 30 minutes. A manatee-spotting boat patrolled the waters near the docks, drones patrolled the skies and manatee spotters working for the boat show worked with boat captains to ensure that no manatees were disturbed or injured.

The administration of Mayor Daniella Levine Cava—who ran for office as an environmentalist—required the permits for the show. The Miami International Boat Show reportedly brings in over a billion dollars of business to the city, so the manatee-monitoring operation was a way to keep the manatees swimming while also keeping the boats moving and the dollars flowing.

By Thursday afternoon, 20 manatee sightings had been reported causing some test rides to be delayed, but in the end, the show simply went on.

You can read more about the manatees' marina meanderings in The Miami Herald.

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