Have you ever wondered how many endangered animals there are in the world? Well, in case you’ve always wanted to know, there are 2,000 plus animals on the endangered species list. One precious animal on the list is the West Indian Manatee, which is found in the warm, coastal waters of Florida. If nothing is done to protect these 1,700-pound marine mammals, they could be gone forever. I propose that we work together to save the West Indian Manatee. There are between 2,000 and 3,000 of these gentle giants, known as sea cows, in Florida’s waters.

They have whiskers, are very slow moving, are not very attractive…but are very hard to dislike because they are so easy-going. Even though manatees have no natural enemies, their population is threatened, mostly because of two menaces to their well-being: boats and Florida’s underwater canal gates and locks. Manatees can be found in the warm waters of shallow rivers, bay, estuaries and coastal waters, which are the same waters in which many pleasure boats travel. If drivers of the boats are not careful, they collide with manatees.

Marine biologists have found that many manatees have a pattern of scars on their backs or tails that have resulted from collisions with boats. As a result, roughly eighty to one hundred manatees die each year from the propeller cuts and other injuries coming from collisions with commercial and recreational watercraft. The second major threat to manatees is their lack of fear of Florida’s underwater canal gates and locks. Each year a significant number of manatees die after being crushed in these locks. The U. S. Navy donated a system of acoustic sensors that were placed onto the gates and locks of Port Canaveral in March 2000.

The sensors are designed to keep the gates open if a manatee is nearby, much the same way garage door sensors work. The results have been encouraging because many manatees have been detected and saved. Other perilous threats to West Indian Manatees include disease, pollution, and even hunters. There are several laws and acts designed to protect the well-being of manatees. Federal laws include the Endangered Species Act, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, while the primary Florida Law is the Manatee Sanctuary Act. One way that you can help is by joining the Save the Manatee Club, especially if you plan to live in Florida some day.

If you do not have time to join, you can just donate money to help fund projects that protect these precious animals. In conclusion, I urge you to get involved in saving the West Indian Manatee. If only you could see this animal live you could see why I am sharing this information with you. Manatees are animals that are just as amazing today as they were in 1493 when Christopher Columbus first saw them when he discovered the new world. I hope the West Indian Manatees stay here on earth for even longer. I propose to save them and I hope you do too.

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