Manatee Awareness Month in November looks at one of the major problems Florida and the world is facing today, which is the diminishing numbers of the manatee population. Today, the IUCN Red List lists four species of manatee as vulnerable to extinction. This status has lasted for almost 30 years now, and there seems to be no improvement. Manatees are harmless marine animals that face one main predator — humans. This Manatee Awareness Month, educate those around you about the threats these beautiful mammals face, as well as why they are essential for the world. Let’s unite and save the manatees!
History of Manatee Awareness Month
Manatees have been listed as an endangered species since 1966. To promote manatee conservation in Florida and other regions, Manatee Awareness Month was first declared in 1979 by former Florida Governor Bob Graham. During this time, the state began designating manatee protection zones in areas known to be manatee winter gathering spots. Since November is the time they are most spotted, it was the ideal month to promote the importance of their conservation. In 2005, Florida officially declared November Manatee Awareness Month in order to save the manatees. Tragically, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service states that approximately 99 manatee deaths each year are caused by humans. This includes collisions with boats and their propellers. In January 2016, there were 43 manatee deaths in Florida alone. This is a great cause for concern since IUCN stated that more than one million vessels were registered in Florida in 2005. And because the largest population of manatees is found in this region, more deaths are expected.
Manatees are also dying due to the impact of human activities on their food source. To aid in protecting the manatees, Save the Manatee Club was also formed in 1981. The organization was co-founded by singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett and then-Florida Governor Bob Graham who strongly believed that public awareness was the key to save the manatees. Today, manatees are protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act but, unfortunately, they still remain threatened.
Manatee Awareness Month timeline
A winter survey finds 2,639 manatees in Florida.
A manatee is spotted in New York.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes downgrading the manatee's status from endangered to threatened.
A manatee is found dead on a New Jersey beach.
Manatee Awareness Month FAQs
Are manatees threatened?
Yes. Manatees face many threats, including collisions with boats, as well as habitat loss and degradation, to name just a few of the dangers posed to them.
Are manatees smart?
While manatees are known for having one of the smallest brains, they are very intelligent.
Will manatees bite you?
No. Manatees don’t bite since they don’t feed on flesh, and are generally viewed as vegetarians.
How to Observe Manatee Awareness Month
Learn more about manatees
During this month, learn all you can about manatees. Conduct research, watch documentaries, or visit sites where they are spotted.
Fund an organization
Funds are an essential part of conservation. To save the manatees, you can contribute by funding an organization working towards their preservation and spreading awareness.
Spread the message
Play your part by. Spread the message about the dangers manatees face and why their preservation is necessary for the ecological system.
5 Facts You Need To Know About Manatees
There are at least 13,000 manatees in the U.S.
The weight of a calf
A manatee calf weighs nearly 66 pounds.
The manatee’s nickname
The manatee is known as the sea cow.
Manatees see certain colors
They can distinguish between blue and green colors.
Manatees can swim up to 20 miles per hour in short bursts.
Why Manatee Awareness Month is Important
It highlights the importance of manatees for the ecosystem
The month talks about why the manatees are important for the ecosystem. It teaches us why we need to make an effort to conserve them.
Manatee Awareness Month is an opportunity to learn. During the month, we learn about their habitat and why they are threatened.
People are encouraged to act
The month encourages people to take action. Who wouldn’t want to save these harmless, friendly creatures?
Manatee Awareness Month dates