Tuesday, June 3, 2014

What's a manatee?

Photo of manatee courtesy of Nature.Org.
If you're like me, you've no idea what a manatee is. My curiosity was aroused by the email below from Jamie Rappaport Clark, Defenders of Wildlife, expressing concern for Florida manatees, which are on the endangered species list. I went to the Defenders of Wildlife website to learn about these mammals:

The Florida manatee, Florida’s state marine mammal, is a large aquatic relative of the elephant. They are grayish brown in color and have thick, wrinkled skin on which there is often a growth of algae. Their front flippers help them steer, or sometimes crawl, through shallow water. They also have powerful, flat tails that help propel them through the water. Despite their small eyes and lack of outer ears, manatees are thought to see and hear quite well.

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Help Protect Endangered Manatees!
manatee keith ramos
Help us protect manatees from boat strikes and habitat loss!
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Dear Virginia,
Last year, a record number of the world’s remaining Florida manatees perished. And this summer could shape up to be a killer – literally!
Time’s running out for these beloved and imperiled mammals and they desperately need your help!
More than 800 of these gentle giants died in 2013 – victims of habitat loss, toxic algae outbreaks and boat strikes.
Some of the ever-present dangers manatees face skyrocket in the summertime. Boaters flock to waterways these animals inhabit, leading to boat strikes that leave dozens of manatees dead or injured. And the toxic blooms that claimed hundreds of animals in 2013 are much more likely to occur in steamy summer weather.
Meanwhile, the planet’s remaining population of these aquatic mammals is packed into less and less watery habitat. Development has wiped out or diminished many of the natural springs manatees use in winter to stay warm and today 60 percent of the remaining animals now depend on power plant outflows for survivable temperatures.
Thanks to you and other wildlife lovers, Defenders is confronting the manatee crisis head on.
We’re lobbying to expand existing protected areas, and to guide future development away from critical habitat. We’re also combatting boat strike deaths, by helping to establish and expand “slow zones” for boaters in manatee territory.
Your support is absolutely crucial to our efforts to save manatees, wolves, and other imperiled wildlife. We’re counting on you now more than ever.
Thank you for all you do.
Jamie Rappaport Clark, Defenders of Wildlife
Jamie Rappaport Clark
Defenders of Wildlife

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