THE BLOG

The Plight of the Manatee

08/27/2014 04:34 pm ET | Updated Oct 27, 2014

I have a home in Florida and love that the state is a virtual animal kingdom with so many diverse species on land, sea and sky.

One of my favorite marine mammals is the manatee that calls Florida its home. Manatees can grow up to 9 to 10 feet and weight as much as 1,000 pounds. The manatee plays a vital role in influencing plant growth in the shallow rivers, bays, estuaries, canals and coastal waters.

I was dismayed to learn that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering changing the manatee's status from an endangered species to threatened. This is in spite of the fact that in 2013, over 830 manatees have died. Many of these deaths have been because of collisions with boats. Other manatees have been spotted with open gashes on their backs from being hit by propellers. Manatees also seek out warmer water in Florida during the winter months and those areas are getting harder to find. Last year hundreds also died when food sources were lost on the East Coast and red tide killed them on the West Coast. Now is not the time to change the manatee's endangered status.

Why are manatees being targeted to have their endangered status revoked? Powerful special interest groups representing boat and property owners resent the fact that boat speeds have been lowered and limits placed on developing marinas near where manatees congregate. Any rules and regulations protecting manatees anger these groups.

There isn't much time left to save the manatees. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has instituted a cut-off date of September 2nd to hear from the public about the fate of the manatee.

I urge you to go to this link and send a message that manatees are more important than property values or boating. We need to be the voice of the gentle, sea-grass munching manatee.