Pick/Protect 21: The West Indian Manatee

Filed Under (Pick/Protect 21, Uncategorized, conservation) by Alexa & Cindy on 24-05-2010

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Today is Manatee Monday for Pick/Protect 21.

This is a very special post, because the endangered Manatee is my favorite sea creature. I love all sea creatures, but I encourage you to Pick/Protect this one.

Try and watch this without your heart melting:

Why you should pick them

  • I already said it’s my favorite ocean creature, but here are some additional reasons to pick the manatee:
  • Their only enemy: boat propellers (in other words, man).
  • Manatees stay and travel near the coastline of the ocean, but they like to live in rivers near the ocean.
  • They are noisy plant eaters, and eat up to 60-plus pounds of water plants per day.
  • They usually give birth to one calf per year (sometimes they even have twins). It’s also been said that they make great parents.
  • Now here’s a really weird fact: manatees used to be called mermaids. Looking at manatees in the video, they don’t look like mermaids AT ALL. Hundreds of years ago, when sailors first saw Manatees (including one famous sailor named Christopher Columbus), they somehow thought, with their wacky imaginations, that they were mermaids.
  • Manatees grow to be between 800 and 1200 pounds, and 8.2-9.8 feet long. They have paddle-shaped tails, and shorter snouts than their cousins, the dugongs.
  • They spend their days eating, sleeping and travelling, and they swim very slowly.
  • Manatees are nicknamed “sea cows,” because when you look at a manatee grazing under water, they look a lot like a cow grazing on land. They’re messy and noisy eaters!
  • The land animal the manatee is most closely related to is the elephant.
  • Thousands of years ago, Manatees used to graze on land with cows, but over time, they entered the water, and their front legs evolved into flippers, their back legs into a paddle-shaped tail, and they became water animals. But, they still have fingernails on their flippers to prove that they were once land animals.

Why they need protecting

Once again, their main enemies are boat propellers. While in the water, a Manatee might hear the buzzing noise of a boat propeller and get curious. As Manatees have literally NO fear, one might swim up to the propeller out of curiosity, and BAM! The boat propeller hits the Manatee. Some drown, some are badly injured as a result.

In 2009, a record number of Manatees were recorded in Florida (3809), but unfortunately, a record number were also killed in the same year (419), most by humans, and 30% of those deaths from boat strikes. That equals 12.5% of the whole population killed, which is not good.

How you can protect them

Spread the word to boaters you know to pay attention to Manatee zones in the water. That means turn off your engine.

You can also donate to the Manatee cause. One way is to join the Save the Manatee Club. You can click on the ad in the sidebar here on O4E to find out how you can adopt one for your dad for father’s day, or for yourself or someone you love, anytime.

You can also help the STMC by voting for them in the Pepsi Refresh Project as they compete for a grant to study Manatees in Florida (vote now – the contest ends May 31st).

I encourage you to find all you can about the Manatee and tell ME some ways you can protect it – unless I already know. ;-)


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