Come November, the VKOC lagoon becomes a Manatee hotspot until March. We understand these mammals are cute, but we must remind you all that they are 100% wild. VKOC seeks to increase public awareness and education of Manatee conservation. If you use a kayak, canoe, paddle board or raft or swim near beaches or other waterways, you are responsible for looking out for Florida’s wildlife.
Florida manatees were first protected through Florida State Law in 1893. Manatees are protected by the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act (§379.2431(2), Florida Statutes) and are federally protected by both the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. It is illegal to touch, ride, hug, and feed a Manatee. Look, but don't touch manatees. Also, don't feed manatees or give them water. If manatees become accustomed to being around people, they can alter their behavior in the wild, perhaps causing them to lose their natural fear of boats and humans, which may make them more susceptible to harm.
While you're on the water, please take in consideration the following tips to view Manatees. You'll thank us later for this.
IF YOU SPOT AN INJURED MANATEE
Call 1-888-404-FWCC (3922).
You can also send a text message or email to Tip@MyFWC.com or use VHF Channel 16 on your marine radio.
Please inform a VKOC Staff Member. We will follow up on your report.
These are wild animals. They are free to come and go as they please. April - October, we may have 2-5 come inside our lagoon. Please ask a staff member if there has been any sightings on the day of your outing. They will be more than happy to tell you where.
Manatees can be spotted inside the VKOC Lagoon, out on the Virginia Key Cove, or at the North Point of the Island.
Look for bubbles floating to the surface. The bubbles are the oxygen from manatees breathing and lurking beneath the water! They surface for air every five minutes, so be patient.
From November - March, VKOC offers guided Manatee Photo Safaris. We are the only facility in Miami that offers this experience on both regular Kayaks/Paddleboards and Clear Kayaks and Canoes. Beginning in April until October, we offer daytime Coastal Safaris. You may see manatees in either tour you choose to participate.