David R. Schrichte manatee photo
Celebrate Earth Day, Celebrate Manatees!

Celebrate Earth Day!
The very first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970. It was a critical milestone in American history. Earth Day shone a light on the degradation of our wild places, and the loss of animal and plant species taking place at an alarming rate. It set the stage for the passage of the Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Clean Water Act, and Clean Air Act. It led to the creation of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to the EPA's website, before 1970 "There were no legal or regulatory mechanisms to protect our environment." Environmental protections safeguard our health, and that of our wildlife populations, and they conserve our shared habitat.
Earlier this year, we launched our live manatee webcams at Blue Spring State Park.

Celebrate Manatees!
Flash back to that first Earth Day in 1970, when not much was known about manatees. Brutus and Merlin, two of our beloved Blue Spring manatee adoptees, were identified that year by a researcher. Brutus and Merlin are at least 42 years old now! Their longevity is a testament to Save the Manatee Club's hard work campaigning for better protections, like the 300,000+ acres of Florida's waterways now regulated for manatee protection, and like the boat speed zones that protect the manatee population using the St. Johns River, including Brutus and Merlin and our other Blue Spring manatee adoptees.

This Earth Day, we celebrate our manatee adoptees' lives because they are survivors -- in spite of the many human-related threats to their survival, including speeding boats, water pollution, shoreline development, reduced water flows at natural springs, and seagrass loss.

Protection Measures Work!
Thanks to Save the Manatee Club and your involvement, we have succeeded in building world-wide awareness about manatees and the threats to their existence, and we've fought for -- and won -- vastly improved manatee and habitat protection measures. Our actions have resulted in much better lives for manatees. Read about the highlights of our activities by year.

Both the St. Johns River and the Crystal River/Kings Bay manatee populations have had protection measures in place for decades.

Before that, manatees had it much worse!

Flash back to 1970 again, when oceanographer Jacques Cousteau paid a visit to Blue Spring to film a documentary about manatees. In a 2006 interview with me and Captain Cousteau's grandson, Philippe, Steve Curwood, the host of the radio show Living on Earth, said this about Blue Spring: "Pleasure boats jammed the creek that flows out of the spring, and the eleven manatees that sought refuge in the spring's warm waters were being harassed. Some people rode them with rope harnesses; some animals had initials carved in their backs. Even the youngest calves had propeller scars from collisions with boats traveling too fast."

In 1972, Blue Spring became a state park and manatee refuge, and more comprehensive boat speed zones were adopted throughout the St. Johns River in 1991, thanks in large part to our strong advocacy work.

URGENT BREAKING NEWS: As we were preparing to send this email to you, a group calling itself Save Crystal River is planning to file a Notice of Intent to Sue the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for adopting the permanent Kings Bay rule. The group claims, in part, that the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) does not apply to Florida state waters, despite a federal court judge ruling in 2005 that the protection of marine mammals is mandated by the MMPA in both state and federal waters. Now, Save the Manatee Club must be ready to go to court, not only to help defend the Service’s additional manatee protections in Kings Bay, but everywhere manatees are at risk, since a loss here in such a critical place for manatees would mean the Service could not protect manatees anywhere. Knowing this, other manatee opponents are likely to join with this effort. Your continuing financial support is desperately needed to ensure they do not win. Read an earlier article about the City of Crystal River’s and others’ efforts to block additional manatee protection measures in the bay. See a chart of Kings Bay watercraft mortality (pdf). Caution: Chart contains photos of dead manatees.
On the west coast of Florida, the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1983 specifically for the protection of endangered manatees. Over the years, with Save the Manatee Club's help, additional sanctuaries were created.

When protection measures are in place, manatees can endure!

For the last several years, we've been working hard to obtain improved protections for manatees in Kings Bay in Crystal River. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, in mid-March, adopted a permanent rule making all of Kings Bay a manatee refuge. Although the rule fell short of what we advocated for, it dramatically enhanced already existing regulations to protect manatees from boat strikes, and it included additional provisions against harassing manatees by divers and swimmers. The area is the winter home of over 500 manatees and contains the most important warm-water springs for manatees on the West Coast.

Watch Our Blue Spring
Manatee Adoptees 24/7
Earlier this year, we launched our live manatee webcams at Blue Spring State Park. Now it is possible to see Brutus or Merlin or many of the other manatees in real time every day during the winter months. During the non-winter months, we will be broadcasting recorded video of manatees and live underwater and above-water scenes of other wildlife and habitat features within the spring run and adjacent St. John's River. Access the web cams.

This Earth Day, Celebrate Manatees With Us:

1.Adopt our newest Blue Spring manatee adoptees, Annie, Rocket, and Squeaky, for yourself or as gifts for friends and family. Read more about them. Or adopt Brutus, Merlin, or another real, living manatee in our Blue Spring adoption program, or from our Tampa Bay, Alabama, Homosassa Springs, and East Coast adoption programs. Adopt Now!

2. Donate to our Legal Fund so we can defend against imminent lawsuits by selfish, callous opponents within the radical group, Save Crystal River, against manatee protections in Kings Bay, in Florida, and beyond.

3. Urge your friends and family members to join our efforts to protect manatees in Kings Bay by sharing my letter with them via your social networks and personal web site and ask them to donate to our Legal Fund as well. They can go to www.savethemanatee.org/donation.

Thank you so much for your actions today! Together, let's continue to build better, safer lives for manatees everywhere!

Best wishes,

Patrick Rose
Aquatic Biologist, Executive Director
Save the Manatee Club

You can make a donation now to help us fight for manatees by clicking here or call us at 1-800-432-JOIN (5646). Your gift will help fund conservation work to protect endangered manatees and their habitat.
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