The primary author of this site, Matt Clemons,  has served as a board member of Save the Manatee and runs their Do Not Disturb member tours. He has also been
presented with a Manatee Hero award by SMC for his long standing advocacy for the manatee.

Matt has a degree in Wildlife Conservation from the University of Florida. While at UF, Matt was employed by the Florida Co-Operative Fish and Wildlife Research
Unit. He worked on sport fishery research projects in North Central Florida and the Everglades and manatee studies in Southwest Florida.

He has also served with the Florida Marine Research Institute (FMRI ) now a part of FWCC) as a manatee biologist, served on the Citrus County EcoTourism
Committee and sat on the Manatee Advisory Committee of Citrus County. He is a certified Eco-Heritage Guide and instructed a portion of the University of North
Florida's Eco-Heritage Guide Certification Program entitled "Environmental Ethics and Sustainability". He now runs ecotours including manatee observation
CEO's for Wild Manatees      
We are a group of Citizens and  Ecotour Operators who are interested in protecting manatees by keeping them wild.  The name of
our group is
CEOs for Wild Manatees.  It is our core belief that wild animals need to stay wild, and that as in all wildlife viewing,
only  passive observation should be encouraged.  That essentially means look, but don't touch.  We believe that only with strict
adherence to the
Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission's Wildlife Viewing Guidelines , and enforcement of those guidelines,
can manatee viewing programs of any kind (swim or no swim) coexist with the need to protect manatees in the long term.. We
understand the economic importance of the manatee to the local economy and therefore we seek this compromise as a way to
allow the industry to continue and sustain itself for the long term.

While touching is not recommended, it is sometimes inadvertent.  Where we take exception is the more aggressive action of
rubbing or petting.  This is clearly not passive and therefore violates both USFWS and FWCC Guidelines. Taken from the basic
principles of animal behavior, petting is simply another stimulus to which an animal reacts. It is no different than feeding or
watering.  Manatee behavior is learned and is taught from one generation of animals to the next.  One cannot assume that this is
not harmful in the long term.  While the act of petting itself is not lethal, it can result in temporal and spatial shifts in manatee
habitat usage than can result in mortality.  For example, conditioned manatees may be using the bay more frequently in summer
months putting themselves in harms way by feeding and resting in the high speed watersport zone.  Manatee mortality from boat
strikes is on the rise in Citrus County.  In 2008 we reached #1 in the State of Florida for watercraft related manatee  mortality on a
per capita basis.  Can we be sure that this is not the result of the acclimation process?

We encourage everyone to respect all wildlife and especially our manatees. If you are an ecotour operator, all you have to do is
abide by the existing guidelines and
not encourage your clients to continue the cycle of habituation.
If you are a concerned citizen or ecotour operator and want to see wild manatees stay wild, please sign our pledge.  There
is no fee, no call for donations, just a request that you abide by the FWCC Guidelines and encourage others to do so as
well. Click the "
Submit My Pledge"  Button Below
  • I pledge to adhere to the philosophy of passive observation at all times.

  • I pledge to look at, but not intentionally touch manatees.

  • I pledge not to instruct others to pet manatees.

  • I pledge to never feed or water manatees.

  • I pledge never to pursue or chase a manatee.

  • I pledge to never intentionally or negligently harm a manatee.

  • I pledge never to poke, prod or stab or try to pet a manatee.

  • I pledge never to isolate or single out an individual manatee from its group, and or separate a
    cow and her calf.

  • I pledge to never attempt to ride a manatee.

  • I promise always to keep the wild in wild animals.
  • I promise to adhere to the principles of ethical wildlife viewing (look but don't
    intentionally touch or encourage others to do so) and will always keep the wild in
    wildlife.  I support the CEOs for Wild Manatees. (Click the check

  • If you would like to be listed as a supporter of the cause, please provide your name
    or the name of your business in the box below.
Ecotour Operators & Manatee
Friendly Organizations
  Citizen Advocates
Aardvark's Florida Kayak Company
Crystal River
  Caryn Self-Sullivan
Tom Southern
Wild Florida Adventures
  Karen Holder
Katie McCabe
Adventure Outpost
High Springs
  John Green
Todd & Emily Franks
Nature Coast Kayak Tours
Crystal River
  Sharon Althouse
Jack Spirk
    Linda Verstraten
Suwanee River Keeper
Old Town
Diane Lewis
Midway Animal Hospital
  Louise Wootton
Nail Lounge Salon
  Linda M. Tran
Friends of Swallow Caye
  Holly Twining
Jacksonville Zoo / Erin Chancey
  Doris Osburn
Newcomers Kayak Club
Citrus County
  Brinda Curran
Cocoa Beach
  Stan Meeks
Manatees in Paradise
Crystal River
  Peggy Stillman
      Wendy Lynn Parlier
      Bob & Jean Largen
"Enjoy your travels in this great land of
ours, and remember, it’s our
responsibility to keep wildlife wild."

Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf
U.S. Army, Retired
Please support those Businesses that have taken the Pledge. Click Here for Tour Provider Member Profiles
If you choose to use one of the ecofriendly tours listed above, please drop us a note and tell us about your
experience.  Was it as represented ?
In the short video above, the first sequence shows the right way to swim with manatees, the last part (different swimmer)
shows the wrong way. Video used by permission, Tracy Colsen (Nature Coast Kayak Tours).
When viewing manatees, please obey the principles of
ethical wildlife viewing. Observe from a distance, and
practice passive observation. Help us keep manatees wild
and healthy.
Passive Wildlife Observation                           Swimming with Manatees the Right Way
This is the perfect example of what we mean by Passive Observation and should be the norm rather than
the exception.  Note that Mermaid Melissa, Merman Eric and the manatee share the same space without
anyone forcing the issue and trying to make physical contact. If everyone behaved in this responsible and
respectful manner, a no touch rule would not be needed. Just enjoy the company. The manatee in the
video is CC. Note the GPS transmitter attached to his tail. He has spent a lot of time in captivity and being
rescued. He is known for his rolling behavior and unfortunately his affinity for humans.  Despite
attempting to avoid any manatees in filming, CC insisted on injecting himself into the scene.  Hopefully
he'll not attempt this out in the bay during the sport season.  When an animal becomes too use to humans
they may end up being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
See a video of that here.

The next video (below) shows an encounter between Myra who is another tagged manatee and some not
so gentle visitors.  This is why we need a no touch rule. Note that it is illegal to actively engage a tagged
manatee and the commercial operators in the area were specifically asked and agreed to stay away from
Myra. Which would you rather experience?

Biography: CC was rescued as an orphan from the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers, Lee County, Florida on
July 1, 2006. He was only 121 cm long and weighed 55 lbs. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
transported him to SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida to rehabilitate, and he was released at Crystal River on March 4,
2009. Upon release, he was 240 cm in length and weighed 465 lbs. CC began the adaptation process but then
found a cove in the Gulf just outside Crystal River and did not appear to be leaving it often enough to get
sufficient fresh water and food. He was brought back to SeaWorld in Orlando on April 10, 2009, for dehydration
and malnutrition. CC was re-released on February 27, 2010 at Three Sisters in Crystal River, Florida. CC
weighed 700 lbs and was 246 cm on the day of his release. On 3/13/10, CC was rescued from Three Sisters
Springs in Crystal River, FL, from cold stress and brought to Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, FL, to recuperate. CC is
now 263 cm long and weighs 930 lbs. CC was re-released on Wednesday, 2/16/11, at Three Sisters Springs, by
Crystal River Wildlife Refuge, Lowry Park Zoo, USGS, Sea To Shore Alliance, and volunteers. He was given a red
and white tag.  
 More on CC from
Biography: Myra was rescued as an orphan from the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers, Lee County, Florida on
August 17, 2007. She was only 51 lbs and 138 cm long and was rehabilitated at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, Florida. Myra
was released on February 16, 2010 at Three Sisters in Crystal River, Florida. She weighed 725 lbs and was 250 cm
long on the day of her release.

More on Myra from
We greatly appreciate Mermaid Melissa and Eric the Mertailor for helping promote the need to save our seas and all the
inhabitants of our watery world.  They have joined us at CEO's for Wild Manatees to help us continue to raise
awareness of our ancient Mermaids and the need to protect our waters..

Visit Mermaid Melissa at her site.

Visit the Eric the Mertailor at his site.
If you Love Me, Please
Don't Touch Me

Funded by  PADI Project
Aware and SMC
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Site Copy of, a
response to a local tour operator's misleading
website which had
nothing to do about protecting manatees.