Manatee FAQ: Manatee Mortality, Rescue, and Rehabilitation

Q. What is the most common disease for manatees? Can manatees catch the common cold?
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Q. Can you tell me how you treat a cold-stressed manatee?
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Q.
Why can't we just round up the manatees and put them in a lake somewhere so they would be safe?
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Q.
Would manatees be protected if propeller guards were required on all boats in Florida?
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Q.
What are manatees' natural predators, if they have any at all? If they don't, why don't they?
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Q. How long do manatees live?
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Q. Were manatees ever hunted for food?
A.
Florida laws to protect manatees were enacted as early as 1893. However, until the Endangered Species Act of 1973, there were no real laws to protect them. It is now illegal to hunt manatees in the United States, but they are still hunted in all other parts of their range. Most of the time it is opportunistic hunting, such as when the manatee accidentally wanders into a fisherman's net and is used for food. Poaching of manatees is the United States is extremely rare, but it still occurs.

Q. Are manatees ever attacked by sharks or alligators? (Click link to get answer.)

Q. Would high glucose supplements help keep manatees warm during cold weather? (Click the link to get the answer)

Q. What are the different types of speedboats that are dangerous to the manatees?
A.
All types of boats that are going too fast are dangerous to manatees. On average, most manatees only travel about three to eight kilometers (three to five miles) per hour, so any boat that is traveling faster than 24-32 kilometers (15-20 miles) per hour is capable of injuring or killing a manatee.

Q. Have scientists decided what killed so many manatees in 1996? Can anything be done to prevent these mortalities from happening again?
A.
A single catastrophic event in 1996 was responsible for 151 manatee deaths. These manatee deaths were attributed to red tide, a term used for the proliferation or "blooms" of tiny marine organisms called dinoflagellates. The organism's pigments can cause the water to appear red, green, or yellow. Microscopic, but found in great abundance, they give off a toxic byproduct that affects the central nervous system of creatures in the area of the bloom. The red tide epizootic began on March 5 and continued through April 28 along Florida's southwest coast, wiping out approximately 15% of the known west coast population of manatees.

In 1982, another outbreak of red tide was believed to have contributed to the death of 37 manatees. Over the years however, red tide manatee mortality events have been rare. Red tide is considered to be a natural event and therefore may not be preventable. But scientists are currently looking at possibilities to reduce the risk to manatees during red tides. Monitoring and prediction of red tide distribution has been deemed crucial. The possibility of reducing water salinity in certain areas is also being investigated as red tide requires high salinity water to survive and does not do well in water less than 2.5% salt, such as brackish or river water.

Read more about Manatee Mortality and get current mortality statistics.






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