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Manatees off ‘Endangered’ list, Buchanan fighting the change

Manatee calf and mother. Photo by Wayne Lynch.

Although the number of manatees has increased, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service asserts the manatees are not out of the woods yet, and that the new status won’t diminish existing federal protections. Manatees still face threats such as boat propellers and red algae blooms. Manatees will remain protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The current population of manatees in Florida is estimated to be 6,620. And while this new status of the manatees seems to be good news to some, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, has been disappointed by the downlisting of the manatee.

He said the decision to weaken protections under the Endangered Species Act will threaten the survival of the manatee and that the decision needs to be reversed.

Buchanan plans to contact the Secretary of the Interior to reconsider the downlisting, and that a move from ‘Endangered’ to ‘Threatened’ could cause a reassessment of state and local protections for the manatees.

With manatees’ reclassification from “endangered” to “threatened” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act announced March 30, people of all ages have expressed renewed curiosity about the future of these gentle giants.

 

Mote Scientist highlights Manatees in new book

A new book “Florida Manatees: Biology, Behavior, and Conservation” by Dr. John Reynolds of Mote Marine Laboratory provides an updated look into the lives of these iconic marine mammals and the conservation challenges they face, illustrated with photographs by Wayne Lynch.

Reynolds, senior scientist and manager of Mote’s Manatee Research Program and former chair of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, shares what scientists know about.

Manatees, the plant-eating “sea cows” of Florida’s lagoons and coastal habitats, feed on aquatic vegetation and sometimes even congregate by the hundreds at warm-water refuges.

Having survived for eons, today’s manatees are now under constant threat due to the rapidly swelling human population. Their habitats are often devastated by development and pollution and frequented by fast-moving boats with sharp propellers — a new form of predator from which they have no protection. Some threats to manatees are not fully understood and require more research.

 

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