Why are they endangered?
The West Indian Manatee is a
gentle animal with no known enemy. Unfortunately, most of their problems
and deaths are due to humans.
67% percent of West Indian Manatee deaths are related to humans.
- Collisions with motorboats is
the greatest single human related cause of West Indian Manatee
mortality. Nearly every West Indian Manatee is covered
with scars from boat propellers.
our cities expand, their natural
decreased. Every day, 1,000 new residents
move into Florida and a majority of these people end up
living on, or close to the coast.
Much of Florida's
wilderness is being turned into houses, stores, power plants
and the manatee's habitat
- Added to this problem is the
establishment of automatic locks and dams which can harm or
The West Indian manatee has
never been hunted commercially for its meat, it has been
long culled by local people for its meat. Some cruel people
also like to use the slow moving mammal for target practice.
Fishing line and other
trash cause a number of problems for the manatees.
Death may result if the manatee's digestive tract
becomes blocked by fishing line that is accidentally
eaten. Fishing line can easily become tightened
around a flipper, causing serious infections, amputation
or even death.
Only 33 percent of West Indian
are not linked to humans. These include deaths from
diseases, stress from cold weather, defects due to development, reproductive
complications at birth and red-tide poisoning. Red tide
toxins accumulate in the sea squirts which attach to sea
grasses. This poison is ingested accidentally feeding on
the grass. If the temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit
manatees become sluggish and stop eating which can result in
mortality rate is estimated to an average of 100 manatees per
year. West Indian Manatee has a difficult time trying to balance
the death and birth rate because of its late breeding maturity
and low reproductive rate.
What is being done to
protect the manatees?
Important pieces of legislation were passed
The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972
The Endangered Species Act of 1967
Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978
the entire state a refuge and a sanctuary for
the animal. Manatee protection zones have been
established in which boats are required to reduce
their speed to a no wake speed. In specific
areas declared areas manatee refuges, no boats,
swimmers, or divers are allowed.