Save the Manatee
I want to share something with you, a story that one of my adoptive mothers, Conny, has asked me to tell. It's because of Conny and my other adoptive parents that I get as much as I want to eat and the best medical care. Conny picked me to adopt after looking at the 'Save the Manatee Club's' adoption page. Even though I haven't had the chance to meet Conny in person yet, I've been told that she loves to visit the U.S. for her holidays. The first time she came to the U.S. she visited sanctuaries at SeaWorld and Disney World where she fell in love with us manatees.
I am a West Indian manatee. When we don't live in sanctuaries we live in the waters along the coast of Central America and northern South America. I am very thankful for sanctuaries because manatees are an endangered species. We are so big that we don't have any natural predators; however we are endangered because of humans. Manatees like the quiet life. We like to bob around the water's surface, eat, sleep and relax. Moving fast isn't our strong point, so when danger threatens us we can’t get away quick enough. Because of our lifestyle our biggest enemy is the propeller of a boat and we all know that humans operate boats.
In 2010, 11 percent of all manatees that died were killed by boats. Lots more of us have been severely injured by a propeller, leaving us with some pretty bad scars. Some manatees have even lost fins. The people that work in sanctuaries try to help us, but if they don't find out about our injuries soon enough it means that we will die.
Besides boats, there are other dangers threatening us in our natural home. Rope thrown into the water can get tangled around us. When this happens and we can't get it off it can stop us from breathing and we will die. More recently, the biggest cause of manatee deaths is the weather. When the weather gets colder the water gets colder. When that water gets too cold for us we develop 'cold stress.' 'Cold stress' causes us to become malnourished, leaving us emaciated and our skin sloughed off.
Biologists from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission have built a rescue network to help injured manatees. Only establishments authorized by the commission can capture, transport and treat us. In Florida, they are SeaWorld Orlando, Lowry Park Zoo, and the Miami Sea Aquarium. If we're lucky enough to fully recover we are equipped with tracking devices and released back to our natural homes. However, every winter other manatees, including myself, that have been released after injuries come to Blue Spring State Park. 19 other manatees, besides me of course, that come here in the winter can be adopted from www.savethemanatee.org. You can even adopt a manatee for one of your loved ones as a special gift.
Well, that was a long story and I'm pretty tired, so it's time for a nap. Conny may want to add a few words now. Take care and save the Manatees!
Yes, Lenny's right, I want to say a few words. It is really easy to adopt one of these peaceful giants. Adoption costs $35 a year (25 euros), but you can donate more if you want too. When you adopt a manatee you get a photo of him as well as a gift. When I adopted Lenny I got a t-shirt, a thermal bag, manatee cards, bookmarks and stickers.
The reason I picked Lenny is because we were both born in the same year, 1978. He is also a food loving couch potato, so I thought we were the perfect match. If you want to adopt or just learn more about manatees make sure you visit www.savethemanatee.org.
I know manatees aren't seen as the most beautiful, sweet or cuddly animal, but I've fallen in love with them and their relaxed way of life. I know a lot of people don't like SeaWorld because of the dolphin and whale shows, and I don't like them either. However, they are doing good things too, especially when it comes to rescuing and protecting manatees. One day I hope I can visit Florida when Lenny is there for the winter and we can finally meet.
Article by Conny R.