Fish and Wildlife Service officials will decide if manatees should still be protected under the law of endangered species. The animals would still enjoy federal protection but their status would be changed from ‘endangered’ to ‘threatened’.
The experts are about to decide and will announce their decision in the coming days. The public will be able to comment on the decision before it becomes final.
The number of manatees around Florida has been dramatically decreasing at the middle of the last century so the mammal has been put on the list of the endangered species list during the 1970s.
Their habitat has been destroyed by boaters, as the manatees prefer to stay in water of less than six feet, just as the stationary boats.
Officials are thinking to take them off the list of endangered species after analyzing their numbers during the past years. The Fish and Wildlife Service says that the animals are thriving as a result of the protective programs.
Jamie Woodlee from the Manatee Viewing Center claims that the manatees cannot be de-listed completely after being protected for over four decades.
The manatees are related with the elephants. They have a thick and wrinkled grayish brown skin that usually hosts growth of algae. They steer with the help of their flippers and in shallow water they also crawl by pushing with their tail and tearing with their flippers.
The primary factor which threatens manatees is collisions with watercraft. Many manatees get hurt and even killed after being hit by boats, sky jets and other watercraft.
Another obstacle faced by the endangered mammals is the loss of their habitat of warm water during the winter. In 2010 about 800 manatees have died suffering hypothermia in the freezing waters during the winter, of which about the half have died because the period of cold weather has lasted longer than usual.
People are also causing direct harm to the manatees by harassing them, jumping on them, riding them, hitting them and so on. Even when they try to be friendly a person can cause harm by chasing the mammal from an area with warm water or separating the calf from their mother.
The only naturally-occurring danger is the red tide, caused by algae which release neurotoxins. Over 830 manatees have died in 2013 in Florida because the persistent outbreak of the red tide.
However, the Fish and Wildlife Service says that the animals would be still enjoying federal protection so the swimmers won’t be allowed to approach the marine mammals and they won’t be allowed to feed them. Boaters will have to avoid them and some areas will still be designated for manatees only.
According to the officials the manatees are a beloved symbol of Florida so they need to be preserved for the future generations to meet and enjoy them.
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