Endangered Species Watch
The waters off Port Canaveral are home to several listed threatened and endangered species including the West Indian manatee, the right whale and five varieties of sea turtles.
As listed species, these animals are protected from harm and harassment under State and Federal law. To aid in their preservation and protection, we ask that all boaters operating in this area keep watch for manatees, whales and turtles and do everything possible to avoid collisions with them or endanger them through other activities. The information provided here will help you identify the species to watch for in the waters surrounding Port Canaveral.
Adult right whales are medium sized, 45 - 55 feet long (14 - 17 meters). Calves are 15 - 20 feet long (4.5 - 6 meters) and are usually with their mothers. Right whales have a distinctive "V" shaped spout or blow when seen from front or back. They have no dorsal fin, their flippers are short and broad, and their tail flukes are deeply notched with smooth trailing edges. Right whales have black skin; their heads have rough patches of skin that appear white because of whale lice.
North Atlantic right whales travel annually to the coastal waters from 31 degrees 15' N (Altahama Sound, Georgia) to 28 degrees 00' N (just north of Sebastian Inlet, Florida) between December 1 and March 31 to bear their young. This is their only known calving ground.
For these winter months, you should be on the lookout for right whales at all times. During nighttime and other periods of reduced visibility, boat operators should use the slowest safe speed to reduce the risk of collision with right whales. If you sight a right whale, treat it as you would another ship and take measures to avoid collision.
Do not expect the right whale to get out of your way.
Please record the latitude and longitude or Loran C coordinates, or identify the location of the whale with regards to the buoys. Note the direction of the whale's travel and notify authorities and other ships in the area immediately. Call the Florida Marine Patrol at 1-888-404-FWCC.
The West Indian Manatee is a large gray-brown aquatic mammal with a seal-like body which tapers to a flat paddle-shaped tail. The upper part of its body has two small forelimbs. The head and face have thick, wrinkled skin with stiff whiskers on the upper lip. Manatees are typically 9 - 13 feet long and weigh between 1,000 - 3,000 pounds. They spend most of their time feeding and resting and usually surface every few minutes to breathe.
It is illegal to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, annoy or molest manatees. Please observe all manatee speed zones and caution areas. To report manatee deaths, injuries or sightings of radio-tagged manatees, call the Florida Marine Patrol at 1-888-404-FWCC.
The waters off the coast of Port Canaveral are home to Loggerhead, Leatherback, Green, Hawksbill and Kemp's Ridley sea turtles. Click here for descriptions of these five imperiled species. Sea turtles can be found in our waters year round but in the spring and summer, large numbers of adults congregate in water near the coastline. Turtles must surface to breathe, and as a result, they are vulnerable to collisions with vessels. Please keep a careful watch for their presence.
Report all dead or injured sea turtles to the Florida Marine Patrol at 1-888-404-FWCC.
Anglers: Please be aware of the threat of entanglement to birds, manatees, dolphins and sea turtles posed by fishing line left in the environment. Discard unwanted line in the collection bins placed at all of the Port's boat ramps and fishing piers.
Click here to see what other measures are being taken to protect these species in our waters.