With only 4,000 manatees in Florida, deaths caused by human activity is not getting any better. As a matter of fact, Florida State is debating on downlisting them from endangered to threatened. If they successfully give the wrong impression to thousands of Florida residents who contribute to their demise, there will be many dire consequences. Well, Florida State, before you end up making a careless decision, let us go through some of the facts about our current environmental condition.
Floridian manatees are at the brink of extinction. As listed in “Shocking news concerning conservationists", all factors play a roll in exasperating the deaths of many sea cows. John E. Reynolds III, author of Manatee and Dugong, describes the amount of manatee deaths that had occurred between 1976 through 1990. According to Reynolds, 174 carcasses were recovered in 1989 and by the end of the year after, manatee deaths was tallied at 216. From a more recent data collection, carcasses were tallied at record breaking 830 deaths according to National Geographic. With the rate that we are going, there is no denying that manatees are closer to their non-existence each year. If we continue to ignore the needs of these gentle creatures, think about some of the negative impacts that may happen if they are gone.
Many debilitating results will occur if Floridian sea cows are completely eradicated. For instance, an invasive species from South America was imported to Florida because of its beauty. However, this invasive species over-competed with other native water plants. The rate of proliferation of water hyacinths is the highest amongst any known plants, doubling in size every two weeks. If they are left unmanaged, they could go as far as blocking waterways, making it difficult for boats to maneuver to various places. The same goes for native macro-algae normally consumed by Florida sirenian. Other issues include matting of the water’s surface, reduction of sunlight choking other plants, dissolving of oxygen and damaging fish populations, and prospering insects that we tried so hard to eradicate initially; mosquitoes. Seagrass is next on the list of issues. With lack of seagrass on the bottom floor, there will inevitably be intense wave action resulting in damages to local businesses, beaches, and homes. There will also be no anchorage for eggs and larvae, which will severely drop marine organism populations. Last but not least, water quality will be affected causing a reduction in clarity and disrupting fish behavior. With the absence of these filtration systems, industrial waste and runoffs will reach and damage delicate habitats.
Just imagine a world where manatees are extinct. A place where rivers, lagoons, and estuaries are no longer accessible to boaters. We will eventually have no fish to eat because we would be trying to save the last bit of life living in the contaminated waters. If we end up having to be responsible in trying to reduce marine plant overgrowth, we will be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars each year with no desirable results. And don’t think you’re out of the hook residents of Florida. You will probably have to contribute towards the cause by paying higher taxes We will have to live with this curse for the rest of our lives placing a rift to our economy. As a matter of fact, Reynolds describes an experiment conducted by Florida Atlantic University. A network of canals were built to reduce floods and support conservation. There was one problem however, macro-algae growth was out of control, which resulted in blockages. Florida Atlantic estimated that if conventional methods were used to eradicate seaweed, they would spend an average of $500,000 annually on the network alone. Think about how much we would have to spend providing for weed control all over Florida. Eventually, they thought of a temporary solution and that was to transfer manatee into the canal system. To their satisfaction, the results coincided with their expectations. Manatee successfully cleared the canals! So here’s to you Florida State, if you consider manatee population to be expendable, think again.