As of today, approximately 13,000 wild manatees are roaming the seas.
Roaming the Caribbean basin, from the southeastern United States to South America and beyond, these gentle giants have been at risk of extinction for many years.
It is our responsibility to educate ourselves on the plight of manatees. That way, we can work as a species to save these majestic and enigmatic sea creatures. By learning about endangered species, we can help bring their numbers back to what they once were.
So, if you’ve been wondering, ‘are manatees endangered?’, read on to learn more.
Why are Manatees Endangered?
The relationship between humans and manatees has not always been a harmonious one. Indeed, our habits still present a threat to the manatee population today.
Manatees are currently classified as at “high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future.” While their numbers have increased recently, the Florida manatee population fell as low as a few hundred in the 1970s. Traditionally, manatees were hunted for their meat, hides, and blubber.
But are manatees still endangered? Fortunately, the practice of hunting has now stopped. However, this does not mean they are out of danger. As waterways are developed, manatee nesting sites are destroyed by pollution and toxic algae blooms.
Additionally, many manatees die each year after being hit by the many boaters that frequent the temperate bay waters of Florida and the Caribean.
Manatees are fascinating creatures. By learning about their lifestyle and habitats, we can come to understand these gentle giants and protect them in the future.
Manatees can grow up to ten feet long and weigh around 1000lbs. Being so massive, you may wonder, ‘what do manatees eat?’ Manatees are nonpredatory herbivores – they can eat over 200lbs of seagrass per day – earning them the nickname ‘sea-cows.’
Oceanic pollution can cause toxic algae to grow on the seagrass pastures that manatees graze upon. This is a leading factor in the ‘threatened’ status of wild manatee populations.
Manatees are very graceful, despite their huge size. Being curious and inquisitive, they are known to bond with humans. Many conservationists argue that changing the status of manatees from ‘endangered’ to ‘threatened’ in 2017 was premature.
How to Help Manatees
Helping endangered species starts with education and information.
Learn more about manatees with these interesting manatee facts. You can encourage others to join the conservation effort by showing them how interesting these marine giants are.
You can also help by participating in beach and shoreline cleanups. Whether you participate in an organized cleanup effort or not, take the time to pick up any trash you see in your local environment. Every little helps when it comes to endangered species conservation.
Consider donating to a marine conservation charity if you want to contribute to the cause. Your money will go towards worthwhile, boots-on-the-ground efforts every day.
Are Manatees Endangered: Your Questions Answered
So, are manatees endangered?
While their status has been downgraded to ‘threatened,’ there is still a very real threat to the wild manatee population today. By learning about manatees and making a conscious effort to protect them, we can ensure these graceful and gentle creatures continue to roam the oceans.
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