Manatees in Florida: An Endangered Species in Need of Protection | Opportunity For All Floridians

Manatees in Florida: An Endangered Species in Need of Protection

Manatees, also known as sea cows, are gentle and slow-moving marine mammals that are native to Florida’s waters. They are an important part of the state’s natural heritage and play a crucial role in maintaining the health of the ecosystem. Unfortunately, manatees are facing numerous threats that are putting their survival at risk. Under the Trump administration, a federal agency downgraded Manatees from “endangered” to “threatened” in 2017, a move which surprised environmental groups. In order to increase federal funds and protect manatees from starvation, we need to take action and urge that agency to undo their decision and put them back on the Endangered Species list. It’s not only about protecting an iconic species and a crucial part of Florida’s ecosystem, it’s also about benefiting Florida’s economy. 

Why are manatees dying?

File image of a manatee and a snorkeler.

The manatees’ primary source of food is seagrass, which normally grows on the bottom of shallow sea floors. Seagrass is being killed off by fertilizer runoff flowing from the massive sugar cane farms in Central Florida out to the estuaries on either coast where manatees gather to feed on seagrass. The fertilizers contain high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus that contribute to the growth of harmful algal blooms. These blooms reduce the amount of sunlight that penetrates the water, leading to a decrease in seagrass growth. 

In addition to reducing pollution, there are also other steps that can be taken to protect manatees. For example, boaters should slow down in areas where manatees are known to reside, and waterfront property owners can install boat speed zones and underwater ropes to help protect manatees from being struck by boats.

Why does the Endangered Species Act matter?

To protect manatees from starvation, it is important to keep them on the Endangered Species list. This designation will increase federal funds for manatee conservation efforts and provide a higher level of protection for these gentle giants. With more resources, conservation groups can work to reduce the pollution runoff from fertilizers and the sugar cane industry that is causing the decline in seagrass.

Saving Manatees helps our economy

This isn’t just the right thing to do for the environment. It’s also the right thing to do for Florida’s economy. Eco-tourism is a major source of revenue for the state of Florida, generating approximately $10 billion annually from activities such as wildlife watching, snorkeling, and kayaking. Manatees play a crucial role in attracting eco-tourists to Florida, and their presence is vital to the continued success of the eco-tourism industry. By protecting manatees and their habitat, we can ensure that the eco-tourism industry remains strong and continues to generate significant revenue for the state of Florida.

Let’s Take Action

Manatees in Florida are facing numerous threats that are putting their survival at risk. By keeping them on the endangered species list, we can increase federal funds for manatee conservation efforts, protect them from starvation, and benefit Florida’s economy through eco-tourism. With the right actions and protections in place, we can ensure that these gentle giants will continue to thrive in Florida’s waters for generations to come.

It’s time for us to take action to protect manatees in Florida. We urge the government to put manatees back on the endangered species list and increase funding for conservation efforts. With your help, we can ensure that manatees continue to be a thriving part of Florida’s natural heritage for many years to come. Join us in our efforts to protect manatees and their habitat.

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