What about personal watercraft, you know jet-skies and waverunners on the Florida Keys waters

When it comes to personal watercraft there are two groups of people here in the Florida Keys. Those who love them and those who hate their very existence.

It’s a big ocean out there and I have to think there’s room for all of us. Being considerate of other boaters is always a good practice. As a waverunner or jet-ski owner you are considered a boater. More specifically you’re considered a Class A inboard boat by the U. S. Coast Guard and because of that classification you are required to follow most boating regulations. Scroll down at this link to read Florida's Boating Regulations concerning these boats.

In the Florida Keys we share our environment with some unique wildlife. We have several creatures that are on the endangered species list. Many other plants and animals are threatened with extinction due to habitat loss.

It’s your responsibility as a rider of a personal watercraft to be aware of all endangered species in the riding area. There are also safe havens for many animals where they’re protected from human development where they’re allowed to survive and flourish. Here’s a few of these animals you could encounter while riding in the waters of the Florida keys. Pilot whales, brown pelicans, manatee and the American alligator.

Personal Watercraft

You’ll want to stay away from any special habitat such as the mangroves . There are four types of mangroves in the Florida Keys and three of these are threatened with extinction. Pelicans, cormorants, egrets, herons, frigates and roseate spoonbills all nest in these mangrove forests. Mangroves also serve as shelter and a nursery for many species of marine life. That’s why you’re not suppose to operate your personal watercraft in any unmarked mangrove channels. It disturbs birds and other animals that live in these areas.

Corals are another living organism you’ll want to avoid. They provide a safe haven for hundreds of marine creatures. Corals are very fragile organisms. When you’re riding near coral be really careful to avoid any contact with them.

Another environmentally sensitive area is the sea grass. This habitat provides a nursery for most of the fish you see while in the Florida Keys. Sea grass is very delicate. Riding over flats in shallow waters will not only destroy the sea grass but isn’t really healthy for your personal watercraft either. It stirs up the bottom causing sediment to fill the water. This prevents the light from shining thru and it depletes the oxygen in the water.

Noise is a big issue with personal watercraft. If your riding too close to the shoreline of a residential area it disturbs the local residents. Around mangroves the noise causes the nesting birds to leave their nests. This exposes the eggs and hatchlings to the sun’s heat and to predators.

Blasting thru water on a waverunner Another good reason to stay away from the areas mentioned above it that our boys in uniform could site you for harassment. And I for one believe they just sit around looking for reasons to give tickets. Yes, if they feel you are chasing or interrupting feeding, nesting, resting or any action that may cause an animal to deviate from its normal behavior it’s considered harassment and it’s illegal. It causes unduly stress on wildlife and on your pocket book.

My personal experience with personal watercraft was disappointing. I thought I would really enjoy riding them. I rode a waverunner and then a jet-ski. I found that it was a bumpy ride, I felt as if I was in a popcorn popper. The seas were pretty calm on the days I tried them. So you won’t find me riding on one of these in the Florida Keys.

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