Manatee Eco Tourism Association
META, the Manatee Eco Tourism Association of Citrus County, strives to ensure that all human/manatee encounters are conducted in safe, non-stressful, and considerate manner to both the manatee and our resources.
In order to ensure the highest standard of quality and professionalism we, the captains and eco-tour guides of META pledge to adhere to the following practices:
- See to the safety and well-being of our passengers as our first and highest priority.
- Know and obey the relevant environmental regulations as set forth by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service governing operations within the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge in general, and those governing manatee encounters specifically.
- Conduct ourselves in a professional manner at all times within our function as guides and educators. We will reinforce the concept of Manatee Swim Encounters as educational tours and not a theme park style experience.
- Uphold a policy of passive interaction, and to this end:
- We will not allow passengers or employees to disturb eating, nursing, resting, or sleeping manatees.
- We will ensure that all encounters occur on the surface, to that end we will assure that passengers are provided sufficient flotation to assure positive buoyancy.
- We will allow a manatee to approach us, but only if that animal is willing. We will ensure that our guests stop all activity a reasonable distance from the manatee to ensure the manatee is in control of all encounters.
- We will not allow manatees to be chased and pursued by our passengers or employees, and will educate other unguided visitors on the water to do the same.
- We will not entice manatees into encounters with food or water.
- Assure that all passengers know and obey all sanctuary zone restrictions.
- Show courtesy to fellow operators by not “dropping on” or “dumping on” another’s group during a manatee swim encounter. This is a practice by which an operators intentionally crowds another group involved in an interactive swim in an attempt to gain an advantage for his/her own boat.
- We will strive to be cooperative members of the community and to that end we will keep vessels, customers and employees off private docks and sea walls, prevent vessels from blocking navigable channels, and make an effort to keep the noise to a minimum during early morning hours. We will encourage a sense of courtesy in our passengers and remove aggressive or disruptive passengers from the water.
- Represent ourselves as environmental ambassadors of the area and educate swimmers from other vessels in a polite & courteous manner at all times.
- Report any infractions to the proper law enforcement agency.
The Manatee Ecotourism Association is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization.
All contributions to META are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.
Federal Tax ID 45-2898689
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META meetings are held the second Thursday of every month at the Citrus County Visitors and Convention Bureau at 6pm.