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Mankind Continues to be a Danger to Manatees!

Updated: Aug 27, 2022

First deadly boat encounters, now pollution.

A sign notifying passing boaters to respect the manatee and their possible presence.
Manatee Caution Sign (media by JC)

The poor manatee has been an endangered animal for as long as I can remember, and it was only recently they were arguably delisted off the endangered list. Nicknamed the “Sea Cow,” they first had to contend with damage from boat propellers from passing water vehicles. Now they are suffering from starvation as their number one food source, seagrass, has slowly disappeared.

A live manatee passing left to right showing boat propeller damage on outside hide.
Live Manatee (media by JC)

So what is causing the massive die-off of this important manatee staple? According to

Algae pose a problem because seagrasses need sunlight to grow. Fed by nutrients in pollution, such as septic discharge and farm runoff, algae can become so abundant that they actually block light from reaching the lagoon’s floor. When the seagrass dies, it can become yet another nutrient that fuels the algae.

Ultimately, pollution plays a crucial part in reducing seagrass, adversely starving the beloved manatee. Over the last ten years, two separate “Superbloom” algae events have killed off over 95% of the seagrass, all but securing the fate of the manatee. Last year alone, 12% of their population died off, roughly estimated at over 1100 deaths. reported that:

For the past several years ongoing nutrient pollution associated, for instance, with fertilizers, produced mainly from natural gas, and septic tanks have triggered harmful algae blooms that can cloud the lagoon’s historically crystal-clear water, preventing sunlight from reaching the seagrass undulating beneath the surface.

All of this can be countered but none of this can be done overnight. In addition to funding, estimated at five billion dollars over the next 20 years , a massive overhaul/upgrade to the waste-water treatment facilities will have to be performed. Replanting events of good seagrass will also help to purify the surrounding waters while adding to the needed manatee food supply. Consumers will have to also contribute by using alternate methods to treat lawns rather than using typical fertilizers.

An overhead view of a live manatee.
Full Body Manatee Picture (media by JC)

Interesting Notes:

Ongoing efforts to save the manatee have overrun many of the physical facilities used to house these starving animals.

The “experts” have taken it upon themselves to feed heads of lettuce to the starving manatee population. The average manatee can eat 100 pounds of lettuce in a day.

The manatee is Florida’s state marine mammal and an average adult can be 10 to 12 feet in length and weigh up to 1800 lbs. They have a lifespan of up to 60 years in age. (When healthy)

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