Honoring the life and legacy of Save the Manatee Club’s Friend and Co-Founder, Bob Graham

Bob And Jimmy

“When manatees needed a tireless advocate, they found one in Bob, whose legacy of protecting manatees—and indeed all of Florida’s precious natural resources—goes unmatched. Bob was a dear friend, and his dedication to safeguarding manatees and their habitats has left a lasting mark on conservation efforts, inspiring countless individuals to join in the fight to protect these gentle giants. We owe a great debt to him, along with Jimmy and our other founding leaders, for the goodness and strength they exhibited in establishing the strong and diverse foundation of our organization.”
~Patrick Rose, Executive Director

Jimmy Buffett And Governor Bob Graham discuss saving Florida’s manatees.

It is with profound sadness that we reflect on the life and legacy of former US Senator and Florida Governor Bob Graham, a steadfast champion for environmental conservation and wildlife protection. Bob’s enduring commitment to these causes spanned five decades, marking an extraordinary journey that embodied the essence of a true hero and humanitarian.

A Florida native, Bob Graham’s legacy is intertwined with Florida’s rich biodiversity and environmental heritage. His tireless efforts in preserving our parks, wildlife, and communities garnered widespread acclaim. Notably, his invaluable contributions to manatee conservation stand as a testament to his unwavering commitment to safeguarding our precious aquatic ecosystems too.

Throughout his tenure, Senator Graham spearheaded numerous initiatives aimed at protecting manatees and their habitats. His advocacy led to the establishment of November as “Manatee Awareness Month” in 1979, and every November since then, a critical step in raising public consciousness about the plight of these endangered creatures. Under his leadership, sorely needed protection zones and robust awareness campaigns were implemented, ushering in a new era of conservation for Florida’s highly endangered manatees.

Bob’s collaboration with Jimmy Buffett, which took a leap forward in 1981 due to shared concerns about unchecked development in Florida, led to the formation of the Save the Manatee Committee. Having been appointed by Governor Graham as the Scientific Advisor to the Committee, I had the privilege of witnessing firsthand Bob’s unwavering dedication to manatee advocacy and his deep understanding of the scientific foundation behind each and every step forward that would be necessary to prevent the manatees’ extinction in Florida. Together, along with many others, we laid the groundwork for what would later become the Save the Manatee Club, a testament to the enduring impact of intense scientifically based collaboration bolstered by strong grassroots support. Bob and Jimmy’s most recent joint op-ed, published in 2021, is a powerful testament to their enduring commitment to manatee conservation and the preservation of our aquatic ecosystems. Bob, Jimmy, and I had always believed that by saving manatees we could save our critically important aquatic ecosystems, especially our seagrass communities which are so vital to a myriad of other species.

Bob Graham’s enduring legacy extends far beyond his political achievements. His co-founding of Save the Manatee Club stands as a testament to his lifelong commitment to preserving our natural world. Additionally, throughout his distinguished career, Senator Graham’s influence extended to the realm of policy and legislation, where he championed landmark measures for environmental conservation and wildlife protection. His advocacy efforts resulted in the passage of key initiatives that continue to safeguard Florida’s natural wonders and inspire conservation efforts globally.

Florida, and indeed our planet, is far richer for his unwavering dedication to environmental stewardship and conservation. In remembrance of Bob Graham’s remarkable contributions, let us continue to honor his legacy by safeguarding our environment for future generations.

With profound appreciation,

Patrick M. Rose, CPM, Aquatic Biologist
Executive Director
Save the Manatee Club

  ➤ Listen to a podcast with Patrick Rose, Executive Director of Save the Manatee Club, honoring Bob Graham’s extensive contributions. (external link)

  ➤ Read Bob and Jimmy’s co-written op-ed, “Let’s save Florida’s manatees”

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