Manatee Appreciation Day

March 30th, 2016 by

West India Manatees Crystal River

As a dealer of Jeep vehicles, a brand that is a favorite among people who love to explore the outdoors, we wanted to take part in National Manatee Appreciation Day — and honor the beautiful, wild animal found in our own backyard. You can also join in on the conversation on social media by using the hashtag, #ManateeAppreciationDay.

The Florida manatee, also called a sea cow or the West Indian manatee, is a native species to Florida. Manatees typically grow to be between eight and 10 feet long and when fully grown, they weigh between 800 and 1,000 pounds.

They spend their days floating in the water looking for plants to eat. Manatees can be found in all types of waters like rivers, estuaries, the ocean and natural springs. Florida’s best-known location to see manatees is the Three Sisters Springs Wildlife Refuge, located in central Florida. Three Sisters Springs maintain a constant water temperature at 72 degrees Fahrenheit, which provides an essential warm water refuge for the manatees in the winter months.

Though Manatees are a very special animal to see in its natural habitat because of their gentle and sometimes curious nature, it’s also special to see them because they are an endangered species. Over the years, the manatee population has dwindled, but the manatee population has seemed to be making a comeback. Around 20% percent of manatee deaths are the result of human behaviors like hunting and our destruction to their environment.

Manatees are quite vulnerable to hunters as they are large, uber-slow moving creatures.  Hunters target manatees for their bones, oil and hides.  Though there are state and laws in place to protect manatees from human predators, the laws are difficult to enforce.

Aside from hunting, the decrease in the manatee population can also be attributed to accidental human activity. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Comission 25-30% of deaths to manatees is when they are hit by boats and the propellers of boats. A second source that harms or kills manatees is contamination of their water and food source by buildings and agriculture.

How to Help Manatees

If you ever see anyone poaching, hunting or taking manatees from their natural environment, tell the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission immediately. Second, always clean up after yourself. Never litter anywhere because trash will always find its way to the water. See trash in the water that you can reach? Throw it away. Third is boat awareness. For more FWC resources, see their website myfwc.com/research/manatee.

Boat Awareness

Abide by the posted speed zone signs while in areas known to be used by manatees or when observations indicate manatees might be present. Wear polarized sunglasses to reduce glare on the surface of the water, which will enable you to see manatees more easily.Try to stay in deep-water channels whenever possible and avoid boating over seagrass beds and shallow areas. Manatees are often found in shallow, slow-moving rivers, estuaries, lagoons, and coastal areas. Remain at least 50 feet away from a manatee when operating a powerboat.

Photo source and copyright: Shutterstock / Greg Amptman

 

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