After 45 years, the West Indian manatee has finally been removed off of the US Fish and Wildlife’s endangered species list. In 1992, even after being placed under the Federal Marine Mammals Protection Act, the population of manatees in Florida was down to just 1,267, worrying scientists that without increased methods of conservation the friendly sea cow would be gone for good. However, recently there has been a break in the trend of a low manatee population. According to Emanuella Grinberg and John Couwels of CNN, the number of manatees has increased by 500% and there are more than 6,300 in Florida.
“I am super excited to hear that manatees are no longer on the endangered species list,” said senior Claire Bjork. “They are really neat animals and their recovery is a triumph for conservation biology.”
The low in the manatee population was due to boat collisions, loss of habitats due to human construction, red tides (algae blooms), and fish line and net injuries. These issues resulted in lawmakers creating protection zones which allowed the number of manatees to flourish. While manatees are no longer endangered at this point, they are still a threatened species. In fact, some Florida legislators want manatees to be put back on the endangered species list out of fear that policies will be rolled back resulting in harm to the population. Currently, Floridian US Congressman Vern Buchanon is urging Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to put the manatee back on the list. Regardless, conservation groups advocate to maintain speed boat limits and habitat protection.
“I was so happy to hear that manatees are off the endangered species list!” said senior Emily Pearlman. “However this does not mean we do not have to worry about manatees anymore; we still need to be doing the full amount to protect their environments.”
Do your part to help keep manatees off of the endangered species list by joining the national Save The Manatees Club at http://www.savethemanatee.org/.
Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons