Cedar Key is home to the second largest migratory site for the American oystercatcher, and the birds’ resting sites are at risk from boaters getting too close or causing big wakes.
Every winter, the birds flock to Cedar Key, a popular destination for fishing and boating on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
The oystercatchers choose offshore habitats to migrate to because they are hidden from most predators and people. But because there are no speed or wake limits regulating the waters where they rest, they become especially vulnerable to boat disturbances.
“They are out there, and they’re not just typical seagulls,” Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Officer Robert Johnston said. “These are kind of special birds, and we want people to be aware of it so that they can pay attention to it when they’re out boating.”
The oystercatchers are expected to head back north next month, but for now, the commission is encouraging boaters to stay at least 300 feet away from the birds resting on sandbars.