Thanks so much for your e-mail message. We try discourage anyone from
swimming with the manatees. We support what is called "passive
observation," or observing manatees from a distance.
The reason we don't encourage people to swim with manatees is that,
inevitably, people usually want to touch the manatees or interact with them
in some way. Manatees are protected under the Endangered Species Act, so
touching them, feeding, surrounding, or chasing them can be considered
harassment and is therefore illegal.
Many times, when people swim with manatees, it is also at a warm water
spring which is a winter refuge that manatees need for their survival. When
people try to touch or pursue manatees, they can alter the manatee's
behavior in the wild, perhaps causing them to leave a warm water area, which
makes them susceptible to potential harm. Also, people can inadvertently
separate a mother and calf by trying to touch manatees. Manatees calves
depend on the care of their mothers for up to two years, so a calf who is
separated from his or her mother could ultimately die without her.
At SMC, we believe that observing from a distance is the best way to protect
manatees and all wildlife. There are plenty of places you can see manatees
in Florida without getting in the water with them. We have information on
SMC-recommended manatee viewing areas on our Web site. We also have section
titled, "If You Love Me, Please Don't Touch Me" (manatee protection tips for
divers, swimmers, and boaters) posted at our site. Here are the URL's for
both of them.
Thanks so much for your interest in manatees!
Save the Manatee Club
500 N. Maitland Ave.
Maitland, FL 32751
----- Original Message -----
From: susan Epstein <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Sunday, April 30, 2000 3:34 PM
Subject: swimming with manatees
> We are very aware of the status of manatees and have adopted one through
> your organization. A visit to Florida is in our plans and wonder if
> there is a "correct" way to swim with manatees or is it harmful even if
> they are not touched. My 9-year-old daughter has been fascinated by them
> since first grade.
> Sue Epstein
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