Manatee Awareness Month: More Important Now Than Ever!
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Director of Government Relations
Note: A high resolution jpeg (300 dpi) of a manatee image is available upon request.
For Immediate Release: November 7, 2005
Manatees are often called one of the most treasured marine mammals on earth and are considered by many to be a vital part of America’s natural heritage. For the last several years, Florida Governor Jeb Bush has signed a proclamation naming November as “Manatee Awareness Month,” the time of year when manatees usually start returning to Florida’s warm water winter refuges.
“The manatee is Florida’s official marine mammal, a distinctive and valuable natural resource,” reads the proclamation recently signed by the governor. Many Floridians enjoy living in a state where manatees live, and there are plenty of tourists around the world who look forward to visiting The Sunshine State to see these unique, gentle creatures.
“Manatee Awareness Month is a great tradition Florida’s governors have supported year after year,” says Patrick Rose, Save the Manatee Club’s Director of Government Relations. “Each year as Florida’s human population grows, it is an important reminder that we must watch out for these gentle creatures. This year, it seems more important than ever as the U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill that will, if passed by the Senate, greatly weaken regulations mandated by the Endangered Species Act, which has protected America’s imperiled species for decades.”
Club representatives also point out that increasing demand for habitat development in Florida and other states has fueled such efforts to weaken underlying protections for all imperiled species as well as efforts to downgrade their listing status under these weakened laws. For example, Florida has already downgraded the federally endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and is likely to downgrade the endangered manatee despite evidence that most of the manatee population in Florida has likely declined in recent years as a result of rising threats to their future survival.
Watercraft collisions are the number one known cause of manatee mortality. Since record keeping began in 1974 through October 31, 2005, 1,369 manatees have been killed by boats. Additionally, manatees become entangled in crab trap and monofilament fishing lines;they ingest debris; and they drown or get crushed in flood gates and canal locks. Places where manatees feed, rest, breed and birth their young are shrinking under the pressures of a rapidly developing state.
Rose, an avid boater and fisherman himself, explains that Save the Manatee Club is asking the boating public to make it their goal to slow down and give manatees a much-needed break.
To help spread the word about manatees, the Club is giving away free manatee adoptions to the first 150 high school science classes that apply. Each class will receive a one-year membership in Save the Manatee Club that includes a photo of the manatee they select for adoption, the manatee’s biography, adoption certificate, a 38-page educator’s guide and four-color poster, and four newsletters with updated reports. To sign up, go to the link below.
“There are many ways we can all work together now to make a difference in the lives of Florida’s manatees today and for the future,” says Rose.
Read the Manatee Awareness Month proclamation
signed by Florida Governor Jeb Bush (pdf format)
High School Science Classes: Get a free one-year membership!
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