07 November 2013 November is Manatee Awareness Month Posted by: Elizabeth Fleming | 59 comments | Share: It’s Manatee Awareness Month – a time to celebrate the gentle giants that are our official state marine mammal here in Florida. Relatives of the elephant, manatees spend a lot of time grazing on seagrasses in shallow water, and are sometimes referred to as sea cows. Because Florida manatees are an endangered species, it’s especially important that people know more about these wonderful animals and what we can do to protect them. © David Hinkel/USFWS Sadly, as we reported this spring, this has been a particularly brutal year for manatees. In fact, 2013 is now the deadliest year on record for the number of manatees killed: a total of 771 manatees as of November 5, 2013 and we still have nearly two months to go. What made 2013 so deadly? It was due in large part to two unusual algal blooms, one on each coast. The toxic red tide bloom on the Gulf coast killed many manatees directly, while the “brown tide” in the Indian River Lagoon killed off much of their food supply. These two unprecedented events, coupled with the usual threats manatees encounter every year – especially injuries from watercraft – have dealt a significant loss to the population, estimated at around 5,000 animals. With winter approaching, and so many manatees lost already, it’s more important than ever that they find safe, warm water in which to spend the next few months. The greatest long-term threat to manatees involves the loss of warm-water habitat that they need to survive. Manatees become susceptible to cold stress when water temperatures dip below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Because residential development has greatly reduced the natural warm-water springs used by manatees, many of the animals aggregate in the outfalls at electric power plants on cold winter days. A significant number of manatees could be lost in the next few decades if natural areas are not available to manatees as aging plants are shut down or experience equipment failure. To help make traveling to and within warmer waters safer for manatees, a number of seasonal manatee slower-speed protection zones go into effect on November 15 throughout the state. Boaters can help these slow-moving animals by reducing their speed and being alert to the presence of manatees, such as seeing a snout, tail or a large swirl on the surface of the water. Obeying posted speed zones, wearing polarized sunglasses and watching out for manatees can all help save their lives. You can also help manatees at our Wildlife Adoption Center! Click the photo to learn more. There are also other ways that everyone, whether you live and boat in Florida or not, can help manatees. You can visit our website to learn more about these fascinating marine mammals, and share what you know with family and friends; conservation starts with awareness! You can also help by supporting programs that strengthen the Endangered Species Act, which has been vital to manatees’ survival, and Everglades restoration, which will be extremely important to their future. And of course, you can help by supporting Defenders’ efforts. We work to conserve and recover the Florida manatee by protecting habitat, reducing watercraft strikes, improving coastal policies and increasing enforcement of those policies. We advocate for officials and state wildlife agencies to preserve and restore natural springs, conserve seagrass habitat, expand protected areas, designate and enforce protective speed zones and safeguard state and federal policies that protect manatees. Elizabeth Fleming is Defenders’ Florida Representative Anyone who observes a sick, injured, orphaned, entangled or dead manatee, or witnesses someone harming or harassing these vulnerable animals, should immediately call the Florida Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922), text TIP@MYFWC.com or call #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone. 59 Responses to “November is Manatee Awareness Month” Newer Comments » Elaine Carter November 7th, 2013 I was vacationing in Fort Myers several years ago and while I was swimming off Lovers Keys there were two Manatees near the shore. They were just a few feet from me. The Coast Guard kept an eye on them. They said they had not been in that area for a long time. It was a memory I will never forget. Reply Bridget W. Irons November 10th, 2013 Manatees matter. Reply Pamela Barlow November 10th, 2013 I feel for these wolves that have had there environment destroyed they cant forage for there cubs, they look for food and get shot. It’s wrong. Thank you Pam Reply Pulcini Frédéric November 10th, 2013 I love animals. Reply LOIS HAMILTON November 10th, 2013 Please do whatever it takes to save these beautiful Manatee. Reply Lloyd Guptill November 10th, 2013 Gentle creatures should not be uselessly maimed or killed. Reply Julie Butler November 10th, 2013 Please protect manatee’s. They need our help and we need to help them. They have a right to be here to and live in peace and harmony. Reply Julie Butler November 10th, 2013 Please protect the manatee. Reply Joe Deane November 10th, 2013 Mantees are grace and beauty. The lose of even one is a tradegy. Reply Joe Deane November 10th, 2013 Te lose of even one manetee is a tragedy. Reply Tami Calliope November 10th, 2013 For many years I lived on a small boat on the Loxahatchee River in Florida. Every winter the manatees would come, criss-crossed with livid scars from encounters with speedboats. One year I got in the water and swam around with a family of these gentle, sweet, curious creatures. The parents were covered in barnacles because they move so slowly; the baby, who nuzzled me and kept looking into my eyes, was only covered in moss. These moments were a high point in my life. That manatees, the original source of “mermaids”, are so disregarded and endangered breaks my heart. May they survive us. Reply Eileen November 10th, 2013 I had thought that all the necessary precautions where being taken. It is not like this is new, shocking information. People have been aware of this situation for a long, long, time. Wake up people, everyone has a reason on this planet and these gentle, threatened animals must be protected Reply Sharon M Hall November 10th, 2013 Ban motorized craft from manatee habitats. Stop taking habitat from them. Educate the American public on the natural treasures they should actively work to protect. Reply Mary Ann Cassidy November 10th, 2013 These Manatees are wonderful interesting creatures. Please help us save them from cruelty and abandonment! Reply Mary Ann Cassidy November 10th, 2013 Please save Manatees from cruelty and abandonment! Reply Carol Hope November 10th, 2013 Can’t we care as much if not more than we do some 80million year old fossil. We need to be their protectors. Reply Sylvia November 10th, 2013 We must protect these friendly gentle and superb mammals! Respect slow boating, you may be able then to contemplate manatees in THEIR OWN habitat. Don’t forget we are the ones to invade their territory, so please RESPECT them. Reply Shawn Lockwood November 10th, 2013 They so need to be protected. I think Florida needs to stop the growth along the coast. Just because a few super rich can afford to ruin habitats doesn’t mean it should be allowed. They are only one vote; while many more people who could care less about their winter homes and would rather save the wild life and environment. So the most important people are the ones who will get after the leaders and demand protection. National parks should be set up so all can enjoy and keep the propelled watercraft away from them. Reply Debby Scheitler November 10th, 2013 I lived in the Florida Keys for over 25 years & I got the chance to observe the Manatees around our docks & when out on our boat.They are friendly gentle marine mammals.We also saw many Manatees with their babies & we also witnessed a lot of Manatees with injuries from boats.These are memories I will never forget! Reply michele king November 10th, 2013 I would like to see more awareness, education, and public knowledge regarding the Manatees. As they are a very important part of our living populations on our planet. Reply Georgina Burns November 10th, 2013 Thank you for caring about these fascinating creatures, I was so upset a few weeks ago when I saw people in boats invading the Manatees ..space.. I pray a safe place will be found for them. Reply Ben Cachola November 10th, 2013 These endangered adorable and gentle creatures need to survive for the next generation to see. Reply pasquier November 10th, 2013 tout etre vivant sur cette planéte mérite que l’on respecte sa vie et l’on doit tout faire pour ne pas la détruire Reply Adrienne November 10th, 2013 Help protect these gentle creatures. Reply Lisa Dodds November 10th, 2013 Help save and protect these marvellous creaturesxxxxxx Reply Mônica Lidizzia November 10th, 2013 Manatess are naive angels! They do need protection. Reply Paula Hesterman November 10th, 2013 We visited Florida and while rowing a small boat down a creek we saw a manatee with a baby. She was relaxed about our presence as she swam close to the bank and appeared to be feeding. We drifted and watched her for quite a long time. Manatees are such a lovely animals, I can’t think why anybody would want to harm or harass one. Reply Martha & James November 10th, 2013 What gentle mammals. Why do too many humans feel the need to kill, get rid of any wildlife? God created all wildlife for a reason. They are there to keep things in check, oh but watch out guys….here come more crazy people trying to get rid of you. The heck with what your roll is in the scheme of life in the wild. Reply CrazySpirit November 10th, 2013 The Manatee’s are a very slow moving creature and they deserve to be respected,and their habitats restored with everything they need to survive.And as far as boaters they need to slow their speed down and watch out for the slow moving Grandpa’s of the lakes and etc.They have as much right to be acknowledged and cared about as anything else.So rebuild the Habitats for the Manatee’s and the sooner the better,and make it mandatory that the Boaters slow down and watch for them,so they don’t kill them or harm them . Reply Christina Anderson November 10th, 2013 Manatees are gentle giants who live where they are threatened by people with power boats. It would be a shame if they were to become so harrassed that they became extinct. PLEASE, do everything in your power to protect the Manatees. Reply pam dewitt November 10th, 2013 We need to do a better job being a steward for the humanity of the mammals. Reply sammy tanner November 10th, 2013 Our Heavenly Father I pray for your hedge of protection over these gentle creatures.They need you help if they are to servive.I pray this in your Holy name.Amen Reply Malva McIntosh November 10th, 2013 Please help to protect these wonderful animals before is too late. We must take care of this planet and the animals in it. Thanks Reply Eyad Buhaissi November 10th, 2013 From Milwaukee – Wisconsin: We all sport animal preservation and quality of life. Please save the Manatees…. Humans + Animals + Nature = Life (the non-expire formula)…. Cheers Reply Alan Mishler November 11th, 2013 Wolves are an important part of the ecosystem. Past efforts at wolf extermination are well known. Such efforts can only be the result of ignorance and human arrogance. The wolf is the progenitor of our beloved domestic dogs. All life on this planet is related, and all life is precious. The risk to livestock from wild predators is negligible, and losses can be easily compensated. In any case, there is more at stake than economic considerations. Leaving protection to a few states and local political influences is an invitation to species extinction and irrational behavior. Species preservation is in the interest of the whole country, and all future generations. We are, for a time, caretakers for the future. Let us act accordingly. Reply Alan Mishler November 11th, 2013 Viva les manatees, and all other wildlife! Better to extinguish the power boats than the manatees. Reply Stephen Hart November 11th, 2013 The gentle giants of the water. Please help. Reply Eric November 11th, 2013 Never had the pleasure of being in direct contact with these great creatures, but have always been fascinated by their curious and equally gentle nature. Reply Paulette Fay November 11th, 2013 They are such gentle creatures and that makes them vulnerable. Reply Susan November 11th, 2013 I did not know that November is Manatee Awareness Month. Reply Terri Pigford November 11th, 2013 Please let us be mindful of all animals in the ocean and living on land. They have a right to live peacefully uninterupted by humankind. Hopefully people will dig deep for compassion for all living creatures and treat them with respect and freedom to inhabit earth. Reply La Marca Monique November 11th, 2013 MANATEES MUST BE PROTECTED. Reply Iris November 11th, 2013 Keep up the good work! These are beautiful animals, and your efforts to protect them are so important. Thank you. Reply Janis Menken November 11th, 2013 it is imperative to maintain the balance of nature in our seas and shores, and keep these beautiful and important creatures alive and thriving! Reply janny vogel November 11th, 2013 Save them, they have a right to be here. Reply Lynette Sahnow November 11th, 2013 Why is development allowed near the warmer waters that Manatees need? Habitat loss is such a losing battle for endangered species.. Stopping development in critical habitat areas should be the goal for wild species. We humans can live and survive just about anywhere. Reply Sass November 12th, 2013 Help the mantees Reply Marissa November 12th, 2013 Please help save the manatees. These gentle creatures do not deserve this, it’s cruel.’ Reply La Marca Monique November 12th, 2013 manatees must be saved and protected. I do love animals… Reply Denise November 12th, 2013 Love these animals – please continue to protect them! Reply Newer Comments » Post Your Comment Click here to cancel reply. Name (required) Mail (required) (will not be published) You May also be interested in Larry Haverfield, Wildlife Hero: 1936-2014 One of grassland conservation’s greatest unsung heroes, Larry Haverfield dedicated his life to protecting endangered species like the black-footed ferret. The DRECP – What Is It? 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