Manatee Conservation status
One of the biggest debates out there regarding the manatee is just how many of there are there in the world. The number can be very different depending on who is counting. What is true though is that they are very different to accurately count. Therefore some argue that we can’t consider them in danger if we don’t know how many are out there. Yet there is evidence to suggest large numbers of them being killed annually. Along with that is the fact that it takes a full year from reproduction for a calf to be born.
The biggest reason that the number of manatees continues to drop though is due to their interactions with humans. It seems that there just isn’t enough room in the bodies of water out there for them to survive and humans do to what they want to in the same areas. The number one cause of death for these mammals is being struck by boats that share the same waters with them. Those that don’t die immediately are often seriously injured. They often succumb to death due to starvation or infection. Should a mother be injured or killed her calf will likely starve to death if it is still nursing.
Due to so many manatees in the waters of Florida, it is illegal to intentionally harm one. Many boats are asked to stay off the main routes where the manatee will be traveling during migration in order to reduce the risk to these animals. However, there are so many of them in that area that it can be very hard for boats to miss them. The fact that we have very large and powerful boats available now means that the manatees are in grave danger from them.
The fact that humans have controls for waterways that were once all natural is another concern for the manatee. They can easily drown if they get trapped in navigational locks or flood gates. They often are drawn to such areas because they tend to have higher temperatures which they love.
Fishing is very common in the various bodies of water that the manatee live in. Their bodies aren’t designed to allow them to do well when they consume various types of debris. One that is almost always fatal to them is fishing line. It blocks their intestines so they can’t benefit from food and they can’t eliminate waste from their bodies. This is a very slow and painful death for a manatee to be faced with.
In some areas of the Caribbean, it is common for the manatee to be hunted as a way to supply meat to the people there. It is believed that the number of individuals taking part in this has decreased though due to other forms of meat being introduced to them through various conservation efforts. However, many of these natives of the Caribbean are skeptical about the new meats. They continue to hunt the manatee because it is what they are familiar with.
At this point in time, all species of manatees are categorized as vulnerable. This means that they are at a very high risk of one day becoming extinct. With the many great efforts of conservation in place though it is hopeful that we can reverse the pattern of loss and see them grow in numbers. There are many organizations out there with the passion and desire to help the manatee to survive. If you are interested in being a part of them, search online to find out what they are all about and how you can contribute to their efforts.