Monday, September 1, 2014

Endangered manatees?

Florida manatees are large marine mammals and a big topic of debate in the state right now. West Indian Manatee are large, aquatic mammals with a body that tapers to a flat, paddle-shaped tail. They are grayish-brown in color and have two flippers with nails on them. The head and face of these animals are wrinkled with whiskers on the snout. The closest relative to the West Indian manatee is the elephant! The average, adult manatee is about 10 feet long and weighs about 1,000 pounds. They can reach up to 13 feet in length and weigh up to 3,000 pounds.

In areas like Crystal River Florida manatees are a year round tourist attraction, and in the winter months large groups of manatees escape the cold weather by enjoying the spring waters of the Crystal and Homosassa rivers. Not everybody loves the manatees though. Boaters resent the no wake zones created to provide manatees more safety against deadly boat propellers. If any of you have ever seen a manatee in person, you probably noticed the scars on their backs because it is hard to see a manatee that hasn't been cut by a boat propeller.

Now it is the legislator's turn to get involved with the manatee debate. In 1967 manatees were added to the federal listing as an endangered species, the most protective classification. Since that time the manatee numbers have improved. Florida's manatee population has grown from several hundred in 1967 to over 4,800 in this year. A growth that has some people speculating that may be able to shifted from endangered to threatened. Endangered species are in danger of becoming extinct throughout all or the majority of its range while a "threatened" species is one that is likely to become endangered in the near future.

According to the wildlife service, officials began working on the reclassification proposal in 2013, but those efforts were suspended amid funding constraints, the U.S. government shutdown and concerns over recent spikes in manatee deaths, particularly during cold snaps. A record 829 manatees died last year, breaking the 2010 record of 766, according to state records.

No comments:

Post a Comment