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December 4, 2013

Spread holiday cheer with manatee, sea turtle decals

Live Oak — Those searching for a meaningful holiday gift should consider choosing one that helps protect Florida’s manatees and sea turtles.

With a $5 donation, people can receive a manatee or sea turtle decal from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

This year’s decals celebrate the presence of manatees and sea turtles (los manaties y tortugas marinas) 500 years ago in Florida when Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon landed on this peninsula and named it La Florida, land of flowers.

People can order the decals online at MyFWC.com/ManateeSeaTurtleDecals or ask for them at local county tax collectors’ offices. Decal donations support conservation of manatees and sea turtles, including research, rescue, rehabilitation and management efforts.

“The FWC’s manatee and sea turtle decals illustrate how these species have been interwoven with Florida’s history for 500 years as part of our rich natural heritage,” said Carol Knox, the FWC’s Imperiled Species Management Section leader. “With a $5 donation per decal, people can be part of the effort to keep manatees and sea turtles as part of our wildlife legacy for at least 500 more years.”

Manatees and sea turtles were among the native wildlife seen by Ponce de Leon and his crew. Ponce de Leon also designated a cluster of islands 70 miles west of Key West as Las Tortugas, because of the many sea turtles nesting there. As with other Florida beaches, the islands of Dry Tortugas National Park still have loggerhead and green turtles coming back year after year to lay their eggs.

Today, the manatee is the state’s designated marine mammal, and the loggerhead sea turtle is the state’s saltwater reptile.

Purchase of a “Save the Manatee” or “Helping Sea Turtles Survive” license plate is another way to celebrate the holidays while protecting these imperiled species. Go to BuyaPlate.com.

For more on manatees, go to MyFWC.com/Manatee.

For more on sea turtles, go to MyFWC.com/SeaTurtle.

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