Over the years, marine animal deaths have been on the rise. The shark fin trade alone kills around 100 million sharks every year and generates over $500 million in annual revenue. While the amount of sharks killed is staggering, so is the number of Florida manatees that passed away this year. According to the Save the Manatee Club, 769 manatees have died this year alone, which makes 2013 the deadliest year for the endangered manatees.
While the manatees encounter threats on a daily basis, two very unusual events happened that wiped out a majority of them. In one event, 276 manatees died from exposure to a toxic red tide bloom in Lee County, while an unusual event claimed the lives of more than 100 manatees in Broward County.
Patrick Rose, who is an aquatic biologist and the executive director of the Save the Manatee Club said, “With 2013’s catastrophic loss of manatee lives coming so close on the heels of the mass mortality suffered during 2010, the already difficult job to ensure the survival of these gentle and defenseless marine mammals has been made all the more challenging, and it’s not over yet. The previous record of manatee deaths came in 2010, where an estimated 766 manatees died.”
The one big precursor to the increase in deaths this year could have been from the destruction of more than 47,000 acres of sea grass, which serves as the manatee’s main source of food. The destruction of the sea grass along with consecutive cold winters and long droughts has led the population to steadily decrease. According to the Manatee Conservation Group, of the victims, 123 of them were stillborn, newborn, or young calves.
The Save the Manatee Club has numerous ways that the public can support manatee protection and be involved in Manatee Awareness Month which takes place in November. Signs, banners, and decals are made by the club. Examples of signs include “Please Slow: Manatees Below” for warning boaters in the area, and posters are available to be hung up in local dive shops, marinas, and various businesses. The general public can also help protect manatees through reporting those in trouble, speaking out for manatee protection, or becoming a manatee safe boater.
If you would like to purchase signs or banners or find out more information about the Save the Manatee Club, please email [email protected] or call 1-800-432-JOIN. You can also visit their website at here.
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