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Florida's Endangered Marine Animal

Essay by   •  April 25, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,489 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,707 Views

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Florida's Endangered Marine Animal

Manatees have been around in Florida for many decades. Averaging ten feet long and weighing a little over a thousand pounds, these large gray mammals are known for being the most endangered marine animal of Florida (save). And sadly to say, the number of these West Indian manatees dying from watercrafts, accidents, and natural factors is steadily rising. ''As the number of boaters increases, so do the number of Manatees deaths'' (Flor). Although we cannot control the natural factors of these animals deaths, we can surely lower the accidents caused by boaters and watercraft's on manatees. Until the number of manatees dying every year go down, We as Floridians need to better enforce Manatee regulations, especially in counties where they're not strictly enforced by law enforcement agencies, with the hope of lowering the number of Manatee mortality's.

Being the closest relative to the elephant, and a relative to the West African Manatee, these lovable mammals are believed to live sixty or more years (save). Manatees can be found in ''shallow, slow- moving rivers, estuaries, saltwater bays, canals, and coastal areas'' (save). Manatees migrate within the United States but are mostly concentrated in Florida for the winter (save). These animals do not eat meat, they are strictly ''herbivores'' (save), and because they are mammals, they must surface to breathe air (save). Manatees do not have a high reproductive rate, in fact it is believed that ''one calf is born every two to five years, and twins are rare'' (save). Mothers manatees usually take care of their young for a year while the ''calf remains dependent on them'' (save).

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Manatees also called the sea cow (McMan), is quite hard to identify when comparing a male from a female manatee, just by looking at them. Since male and female Manatees are difficult to tell apart, even though females are known to be bigger, biologists know that ''males have genitals located closely below their navel, and females have genitals below the anus'' (save). Compared to the elephant, manatees are also grayish in color, they both also only eat plants and the elephant is the ''closest living relative to the manatee'' (save).

Having the number one spot as the most endangered marine animal, there are a lot of physical as well as natural factors taking a toll on the manatees causing the number of deaths every year to steadily rise. The number one cause taking its toll on manatees is the cold weather, especially when the cold weather drops below sixty eight degrees. When this takes place manatees can die from a ''weak immune system or hypothermia'' (Policies). Not a lot can be done to prevent the manatees from dying due to the cold. In fact this past year, 2010 was considered to be the deadliest year on record for manatees, 767 manatees died, and 279 of those were due to cold weather stress (Policies). Due to the longer winter season, several manatees were not adaptable to the harsh weather conditions. Red tide has also become a problem that many manatees are being faced with when neuro toxins are released in the water that is very harmful to the manatees. A documented case was in 1996 when some 151 manatees in the Gulf of Mexico died; the victims of a Red Tide outbreak. Manatees are also affected by watercraft injuries, harm from humans, flood gates and locks, and perinatal deaths. Three manatees have been killed in the past two years due to the flood gates and locks malfunctioning and closing because it malfunctioned and couldn't sense a manatee coming (Lelis). Even with all of the causes of death that manatees are being faced with, their getting a little bigger in population, with on average 4,800 manatees in the Florida waters now (Policies). And even with more manatees, the death rates of manatees is rising.

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Description: Causes of Manatee Deaths in Florida by Category 1979-1995 (Perry)

Description: Real signs put up in Actual Manatee zones in Florida to promote awareness (Perry)

Description: Manatee deaths occurring yearly in Florida from year 79-95 (Perry)

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Known for being a Harmless creature, Florida manatees are dying. The death rates of these mammals are going up more and more every year due to various causes. Floridians need to do something about it. We should better enforce manatee regulations in counties who are not listening. Only Palm Beach, Lee, Volusia and Broward County in Florida have made plans to better protect the manatees and are doing so. We as Floridians need

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