So the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has put forth a proposal to remove the West Indian Manatee from the ‘Endangered Species List’ and reclassify manatees as ‘threatened’ instead of ‘critically endangered’. They put forth this proposal because the numbers of manatees in Florida waters has grown from 1,267 back in 1991 to an estimated 6,300 manatees today, a growth of over 500%. The proposal was also put forth to strip nature’s most noble creature, the manatee, of the all federal protections in place to ensure the manatee’s population numbers continue to grow (according to CNN). Now I’ll tell you why this is a stupid fucking idea and why these people should all get their heads out of their asses.
The West Indian Manatee genearlly inhabits shallow water close to coastal land that is protected from large waves AND is home to lots and lots of vegetation (manatees eat a shit ton of sea lettuce every day, and poop an unfathomable amount daily). Boaters (skiers, fishermen, wakeboarders, etc) want the protected waters of the manatee for recreational purposes, and they’re willing to strip the manatee of these protected waters in the pursuit of flat water for skiing and wakeboarding. Thus they’re trying to reclassify manatees as ‘protected’ so the species lose these federally protected waters and boaters can get in there and have their fun. Manatees are the only aquatic mammal (to my knowledge) that have NO NATURAL PREDATORS. Sharks don’t attack manatees. Whales don’t attack manatees. The only predator a manatee is forced to contend with are, you guessed it, human beings driving power boats. It’s the propeller of boat engines that cause manatee deaths, which takes place when boaters are hauling ass through manatee waters and clip the top of a manatee as it comes up to the surface for some air. When we take away the manatee’s protected waters and begin boating in those waters again the number of manatee deaths in Florida caused by boating accidents will begin to skyrocket like they did back in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about this: if we begin boating in manatee waters again we will kill large numbers of manatees…
But why am I so obsessed? Why are manatees worth saving at all? I guess I’ll need you to indulge me for a moment…Now is as good of a time as any to tell you bros that I’m pretty obsessed with manatees (actually, I’m obsessed with all members of the Sirenia order of sea cow mammals). Growing up in Florida we used to take field trips to this place in Bradenton every year, a place that was home to Snooty the Manatee. At 67-years-old (born in 1948) Snooty is the world’s oldest living manatee in captivity, and he’s a goddamn Florida treasure. We used to watch that pudgy ass sea cow bounce into his aquarium, munch on cabbage, and drop the biggest turds you’ve ever seen…BEST FIELD TRIPS EVER. So Snooty’s part of the reason I love manatees so much, but not all. Back when I was in Boy Scouts as a middle schooler we once spent a camping trip in the Lowry Park Zoo manatee aquarium. We camped out next to the glass aquarium where the manatees slept all night and that was a pretty magical experience. And last but not least is another Boy Scouts trip where we went snorkeling with the manatees at Crystal River and I came face-to-face with a baby manatee, one of the most inquisitive and friendly creatures I’ve ever encountered in nature.
Like I mentioned before, as a Floridian ‘having respect for manatees’ is just something that’s engrained in the fiber of your being. And it’s all of these goddamn snow birds and tourists, not the Native Floridians, who want the waters reclassified for recreational use. This has nothing to do with the numbers of manatees rebounding, it’s just a bunch of rich assholes wanting to fuck up Florida land with their boat propellers because they feel entitled to do so….To those people I say BACK THE FUCK OFF, THE MANATEES WERE HERE FIRST. And obviously I’m against the reclassification of manatees as ‘protected’ instead of ‘endangered’, but if any of you bros have a reasonable argument as to why manatees should be reclassified I am willing to listen, so feel free to hit me up down below in the comments.