Spot an Endangered Manatee – Report Immediately
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For Immediate Release: November 4, 2010
It’s that time of year when manatee sightings outside Florida are cause for concern. As cool waters quickly turn frigid when temperatures drop, manatees far from home run the risk of developing cold stress syndrome. Manatees are a subtropical species and cannot tolerate prolonged exposure to water temperatures below 68 F. Residents living along the Eastern Seaboard and Gulf of Mexico are reminded to report any sightings to their local Marine Mammal Stranding Network. Stranding network phone numbers are posted at the following link: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/health/networks.htm.
Dr. Katie Tripp, Director of Science and Conservation for Save the Manatee Club, advises the public to be prepared to report the number of manatees observed; the physical location of the manatees, with reference to any nearby landmarks; and a general description of the size and behavior of the manatee. Also, photos of the manatees, particularly clear photos of any scars or injuries, help biologists identify individual manatees. Dr. Tripp also urges the public not to provide food or water to manatees, as this may prolong their stay when they should be on a steady trek back home.
“Endangered manatees need everyone’s help and protection now more than ever,” said Dr. Tripp. “Through October 22nd of this year, a record number of 665 manatees are known to have died, which represents 13% of the species’ estimated minimum population. More than 300 of these deaths are believed to have been caused by unprecedented cold weather in Florida last winter, and the public’s help is needed to ensure that no manatee cold stress deaths occur outside Florida’s waters as winter approaches.”
The Club helps fund manatee rescue and rehabilitation efforts, including the 1994 rescue and transport of a popular manatee nicknamed “Chessie,” who was sighted, much to everyone’s amazement, in the Chesapeake Bay in the fall.
Patrick Rose, Aquatic Biologist and Executive Director of Save the Manatee Club, spent time searching for manatees during the Gulf Oil catastrophe, and encourages the public to report their out of state sightings to the proper authorities. “We thank everyone for caring about manatees and ask the public to please report any sightings as quickly as possible, so that state and federal agencies, along with other partners, can work efficiently to locate and possibly rescue any wayward manatees.” Rose further notes that it would also be important for those along the oil-impacted Gulf states to pay additional attention and report any signs of oil within the vicinity where manatees are sighted.
Save the Manatee Club was established in 1981 by singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett and former U.S. Senator and Florida Governor, Bob Graham, to protect endangered manatees and their aquatic habitat for future generations. Today, it is the world’s leading manatee conservation organization. The Club is a membership-based, national nonprofit organization that promotes public awareness and education; sponsors local and international scientific research and rescue, rehabilitation, and release efforts; and advocates for the conservation of manatees and their essential habitat based on the best available scientific data.
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