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Manatee refresher course

By Staff | Jun 3, 2015

To the editor:

In a recent newspaper article attributed to Mr. Patrick Rose, executive director of the Save the Manatee Club, he stated: “Collisions with watercraft are the leading cause of ALL manatee deaths in Florida, when a cause of death can be determined.” This statement is the continuing false statements of the Save the Manatee Club through the years of its existence. An average of about 350 manatee deaths occur each year. In truth, maybe two or three might have been killed by a boat collision.

Following is proven factual refresher course about the manatee. In the late 1950s an aerial survey of the migratory manatee population in Florida was found to be roughly 600. The population of the manatee of today in Florida is in the thousands. And because of manmade interference of the migratory pattern of eons ago, they lost their original name of “West Indian manatee” and are now known as the Florida manatee.

So their designated “Endangered Species” tag is kind of misleading, as is the claim of the Save the Manatee Club’s statement that the major cause of manatee deaths is caused by boats. Why do they continue to evade the proven fact that over 90 percent of manatee deaths are health related? Pneumonia, red tide and other health issues are the culprits.

When a manatee is hit by a boater, it is simply caused by the fact that unless the water is crystal clear, you do not see a manatee under the water until it is too late to do anything about it. Our waters are not that clear most of the year. It is true many manatees are unwittingly hit by boats, but the survival rate is pretty high, thanks to their elephant skin. There are many manatee swimming around with propeller marks on their backs, which proves it takes a pretty dramatic hit for them to be killed.

And this notion that human contact with manatees is in some way harmful to them is a fairytale. Manatees have become so domesticated they will swim up to a human in the water. They will swim right up to a boat with people in it. They love fresh water out of a hose. They love to be fed lettuce. Except for the lettuce, they are as friendly as a dog. Manatees harass people more than people harass manatees.

The Save the Manatee Club at one time made sense. Today they make untrue statements to justify their existence! They have done a great job in the past, and now they should change their focus to the Florida panther, which needs more help than the manatee does in surviving at the present time.

Bob Sabatino

Sanibel Island