Monday, April 03, 2017

Manatees - Endangered or Threatened?

The Florida manatee (technically the West Indian manatee, Trichechus manatus)), the floating sofa of the animal kingdom, has been downgraded from Endangered to Threatened.  This is a win, according to US Fish and Wildlife Service: it means the animal's existence is not under imminent threat. They point to aerial surveys showing more than 500 percent increase since 1991, with over six thousand now drifting around.  Some conservation activists, though, are afraid this will reduce the protection afforded to manatees by laws setting aside habitat and implementing low speed limit areas for boats, and those actions will shove the animal back into "endangered" mode.
I've seen them wild in Florida (and a really huge one, as I recall, being being rehabbed in Miami Seaquarium) and they are the most inoffensive things imaginable - seagoing Schmoos, you might say.  Their #1 enemy is the powerboat, The Feds say legal protections will not be reduced, although two Florida legislators have introduced legislation to look at the speed zone rules.  I hope we keep all the protections in place.  With all the bad news about conservation, the manatee, like the bald eagle, provides a reminder of what can be be accomplished.

The manatee (photo credit NOAA)

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