The Florida manatee, also called the sea cow, is a large, herbivorous marine mammal that lives in coastal areas of tropical and temperate waters. The Florida Manatee is the official marine animal and has been listed as an endangered species since 1967. There are three significant threats to the Florida manatee's survival: habitat loss, watercraft collisions, and cold stress. These threats had brought the manatees population to just 2% of what it was during the 1800s when they were hunted nearly to extinction. It is estimated that there are between 1,267-1,300 wild Florida Manatees left in their natural habitat in Florida. Here are some ways you can save these endangered sea cows!
What are the three major threats to the Florida manatee?
The three main threats to the Florida manatee include habitat loss, watercraft collisions, and cold stress.
Habitat loss is a significant threat because manatees need warm waters to survive. The Florida Manatee also needs natural areas for resting and foraging. It is estimated that 75% of the manatees' diet comes from freshwater plants. Habitat loss happens when people clear the land of vegetation or fill in bodies of water with concrete or other materials to build boats, docks, and roads.
Watercraft collisions are also a threat because manatees are often struck by boats traveling at high speeds in state waterways or near shorelines. These collisions can result in serious injury or death for the manatees if not quickly treated with antibiotics and fluids.
Cold stress is another threat because the Florida Manatee has poor heat tolerance; they cannot regulate their body's temperature well in cold water, so they risk hypothermia when exposed to colder water temperatures (like during migration).
How can we help the Florida manatee?
1. Buy a Manatee Tag
Check out www.savethemanatee.org to get a manatee tag to show your support for the Florida Manatees!
2. Don't Feed Them
Feeding wild animals can cause them to lose their natural fear of humans and makes them more prone to being injured, attacked, or killed by predators. If you see a manatee, avoid feeding it and call a wildlife rescue if need be.
3. Get Involved in Manatee Conservation
You can help this endangered animal by donating or volunteering with organizations like Save The Manatees and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission
4. Stay Out of the Waterway!
If you come across a manatee in the waterway, stay out of the waterway until it has left or is rescued by personnel from FWC or WRCA (Wildlife Rescue Center of Assoc.). It can also be dangerous for humans as they are often not accustomed to people on land, so keep your distance if you encounter one!
5. Educate Others!
Spread awareness about these endangered sea cows by sharing them on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat!
How can we help save the manatees in their natural habitat?
The Florida Manatee is an endangered species and needs our help. Here are some ways you can save these endangered sea cows!
1. Don't feed the manatees.
2. Search before relocating your boat to ensure that the area is free of manatees.
3. Never approach a wild manatee, especially during breeding season or near their resting areas, usually in shallow water.
4. If a manatee approaches you, remain calm and slowly back away from them while making noise to alert them that they are not wanted.
5. Do not ride, touch or harass a wild manatee at any time because they may feel threatened and attack you!
Manatees are an endangered species, and the threats they face are many. But we can take steps to help them, such as giving them a break at boat ramps, refraining from feeding them, and protecting their natural habitat.
Spread the awareness with one of out cool Manatee Stickers