Marine Mammals: Why are Manatees Still Threatened?

Learn how humans affect these lovable sea cows

William Schmidt, Staff Reporter

In 2017, the World Wildlife Fund announced that Manatees were no longer considered critically endangered. But now they face a new threat. 

Jill Richardson, a University of Miami researcher, found that “in 2021, a staggering 1,101 manatees died in Florida.”

Richardson goes on to say that most of the manatees’ deaths are attributed to boating accidents combined with inhaling pollutants. It’s not uncommon for fishing boats to catch more fish than they are allowed. Cruise ships also can play a role as they usually start in FL and then travel to the Caribbean. 

However, where this is bad there is also good in return. Due to the lack of natural sea grass being grown thanks to pollution, volunteers are working to donate thousands of pounds of lettuce to help out these manatees.

But why are the sea cows important to the ocean?

Well manatees help maintain vegetation, specifically the invasive species that can harm other sea creatures. They also fertilize the sea grass and maintain balance in the ocean.

In 2017 Manatees were a lot more common, especially off the coast of Florida. (Photo courtesy of Carol Grant)

Whether you love them or you hate them, nature’s only sea cow makes just as much of a splash as its much bigger relatives. While it may not be critically endangered, we as Floridians need to make an effort to be careful where we fish and boat.