90% Of These Threatened Marine Mammals Are Injured By Boats And No One Is Talking About It

Andrea A.
5/5/2017

At the end of December 2015, the photographer Michael Patrick O'Neill, and his brother, Joe, were swimming in the Crystal River in Florida, when they spotted a three-year-old manatee with four long scars on his chest,reports The Dodo.

My goal as a photographer is to create images that entertain, inspire and educate. We all like pretty pictures, but...Publié par Michael Patrick O'Neill Photography sur lundi 28 décembre 2015

The Crystal River, located in theCrystal River National Wildlife Refuge Complex, is home to hundreds of manatees every year. This spectacle attracts numerous visitors, come to admire the large aquatic mammals.

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Source: U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

While the manatee observed by Michael and Joe seemed to be doing alright, despite the deep scarring, that's not the case for all. Manatees move very slowly, which makes them vulnerable to collisions with boats circulating in the river. These accidents can seriously injure or even kill the animals.

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Source: Save the Manatee Club

Jenna Golden, member of the association, Save the Manatee Club, explained:

They're also mammals, so they frequently come up for air, and it's difficult to see a manatee at the surface.

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Source: Save the Manatee Club

A number of regulations exist to try and protect the manatees, but sadly, they're at times insufficient. In 2016, 104 of these large mammals were killed after being hit by a boat. Unfortunately, these numbers are underestimated according to Jenna, because many of the deaths aren't reported.

The accidents are even more traumatic when it happens to a female and her babies. A baby manatee can't survive without his mother.

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Source: Save the Manatee Club

While certain manatees need to be cared for before being rehabilitated, others learn to live with their injuries. That was the case for one male, nicknamed "No Tail." Jenna Golden confided:

He showed up one winter at Blue Spring with a particularly severe, yet healing, tail injury, where most of it was missing after a presumable boat strike. We do know that he has been around quite a while. Amazing what these animals can survive - he still gets around just fine!

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Source: David Schrichte

It is estimated that 90 % of manatees in Florida are hit by a boat at one moment or another.

Unfortunately, boats aren't the only threat for these animals. The excess of algae, due to agriculture or treatment plants, is promoting the disappearance of sea grass, which feeds the large mammals. They then turn to red seaweed, but this contains deadly toxins.

Today, manatees are no longer considered an endangered species. The United States government, who made the change, estimates that they are merely "threatened." This choice was motivated by the significant increase in Manatee populations in Florida over the past few years.

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Source: Save the Manatee Club

Jenna Golden criticizes this change, considering that manatees still face many threats. She concluded:

Everything comes down to education and awareness. We need to understand that manatees are still facing these issues, and be responsible in terms of your waterways, and be responsible in terms of our daily actions. The oceans are all connected, and we need to keep it a nice, healthy place.

H/t: The Dodo

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