Manatee, role in the ecosystem

From: Save the Manatee (
Date: Mon Nov 13 2000 - 10:33:57 EST


Thank you for your question regarding the importance of manatees and their
role in the ecosystem. In 1988, Dr. Thomas J. O'Shea published an article
as part of the Third Southeastern Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Symposium
that provides a good answer to your question. Part of his article addresses
the humanistic justification for protecting manatees as follows:

Our nation's attitude toward its own conservation responsibilities is
undergoing a period of rapid change. Public values embrace a wide array of
species beyond those with a traditional dollar or recreational value.
Federal legislation such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the
Endangered Species Act, new laws of the various states, institution of
nongame programs, and growing membership in broad-based conservation groups
all signal a widening respect and concern for the diversity of life as a
reflection of the quality of life.

Permitting the extinction of any species is an irrovacable desecration of
this emerging view of the quality of life. Nevertheless, some species are
cast more to the forefront of the public eye than others, and in Florida the
manatee ranks among them. In some sense perhaps this rank among taxa of
concern is not disproportionate. If the future is lost for manatees we lose
the only representative of an entire mammalian order in our country, and the
only example we have of the marvelous adaptions represented by this level of
evolutionary distinctiveness. We will lose our self-respect by eliminating
a benign species with no direct conflict with man for resources, a species
enough and flexible enough to have endured centuries of pressure and
environmental change.

Florida is undergoing prodigious development, yet remnants of its fauna
manage to persist in a remarkable, highly visible interface between wildlife
and man. Maintenance of that interface with continued development is a
great experiment in how far our society can go while still upholding
principles of respect for the diversity of life. Manatees currently have the
biological chance and the legal justification to persist, but if the species
is lost to future generations it will be a
bellwether, a signal that through lack of commitment we can lose the battle
to maintain the compatibility of civilization and living diversity.

O'Shea, Thomas J., "The Past, Present, and Future of Manatees in the
Southeastern United States: Realities, Misunderstandings, and Enigmas."
Proceedings of the Third Southeastern Nongame and Endangered Wildlife
Symposium, pp. 184-204. Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources, Game and Fish
Division, Social Circle, GA, 1988.

I hope this answers your question. We appreciate your interest in manatees.

Nancy Sadusky
Communications Director
Save the Manatee Club
500 N. Maitland Ave.
Maitland, FL 32751
1-800-432-JOIN (5646)

----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: <>
Sent: Sunday, November 12, 2000 7:10 PM
Subject: Manatee's Ecosystem

> To Whom this may concern:
> I was wondering if you might be able to tell me the manatee's benefits to
> it's ecosystem or if you can give me some information on a manatee's
> ecosystem.
> Thank you!

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