Subject: Manatee questions

Save the Manatee (education@savethemanatee.org)
Fri, 3 Dec 1999 13:25:24 -0500

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To:  Sue Shirley, Dedham Country Day School, Dedham, MA

Dear Ms. Shirley and students:

Thanks so much for your questions.  We appreciate your interest in =
manatees!
You can also find out more information on manatees by visiting the SMC =
Web
site at http://www.savethemanatee.org.  Go to the "Manatee Info," =
"Manatee
FAQ," and "Manatee Links" sections.

Nancy Sadusky
Save the Manatee Club

Here's the answers to your questions:

> From Emily A. and Maddie: Do manatees ever grow barnacles on them like
whales do? What do manatees eat?

A. Yes, manatees that are found in fresh water often have algae growing =
on
their backs.
 Manatees that are found in salt water sometimes will have barnacles
attached to them -- just
 like boats found in those waters!

A. Manatees are herbivores (plant-eaters), feeding on a large variety of
submerged, emergent, and floating plants. Seagrass beds are important
feeding sites for manatees. Some favorite foods of manatees include: =
Marine
vegetation: Manatee grass, turtle grass, shoal grass, widgeon grass.
Freshwater vegetation: Hydrilla, eelgrass, water hyacinth, and
 water lettuce.

> From George D., Maggie, Stephanie, and Tim: How old do manatees get
beforethey die?

A.  Manatees have no natural enemies, and researchers believe that they =
can
live 60 years or more.

> From Sarah, Lily, Andrew, Hilary, Zach, and Lindy: How can we save
manatees?  How slow do they swim?  How long do the babies stay with =
their
mothers?

A. Great question!  There are lots of things that students can do to =
help
save manatees, even if you don't live in Florida.  Here's some ideas for
you:

First, write a letter to Florida's Governor and tell him that you =
support
strong manatee protection in the state of Florida. This will help to
illustrate to policy makers just how important manatees are.
You can write, type, phone, fax, or e-mail. It doesn't matter whether =
you
live in state or outside of Florida or how old you are. ANY type of =
letter
or a call helps!

The Honorable Jeb Bush
The Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Phone: (850) 488-4441, Fax: (850) 487-0801
E-mail Governor Bush
at his web site: http://www.eog.state.fl.us:/eog/govmailform.html

Second, write your U.S. senator and representative Tell them how =
important
manatees are to you and ask them to support protection for manatees and
their habitat and to keep other environmental laws strong.  To find out =
the
name of your U.S. senator and representative, you can call (800) =
688-9889.
You can also find out the name, address, and
environmental voting record of your U.S. senators and representative, by
visiting the League of Conservation Voters National Environmental
Scorecard on the Web at http://scorecard.lcv.org/.

Here's some other activities:
1. Learn all about manatees and why they are endangered. Next, be a
"goodwill ambassador" for manatees. See the following suggestions or =
come up
with your own ideas to educate others about manatees.
2. Give a speech about manatees to your class or to a group or club that =
you
belong to.
3. Paint a manatee mural on a wall in the classroom at school or create =
a
manatee scene for a bulletin board at home.  Include elements that =
manatees
need to survive and ideas about what students can do to help save them.
4. Put together a class presentation or a play about manatees.  Present =
it
to other classes or community groups.
5.  Hold a "manatee march" at your school or in your neighborhood.  Make
signs that show things students can do to help save manatees and other
wildlife.  Example: "Save Manatees," "Slow Your Boat Down," "Please =
Don't
Feed Manatees," or "Don't Litter."
6.  Go to visit a local waterway.  Organize a cleanup to pick up litter =
and
trash.  Even if you don't live in Florida, this activity will be =
beneficial
to birds and other wildlife.
7.  You can also visit the SMC web site and go to the "Take Action!"
section, you see lots of issues where you can take action to help save
manatees.

A.  Mother manatees nurse their calves for a long period and a calf may
remain dependent on its mother for up to two years.


> From Aaron and Nick:  What is the farthest distance a manatee has
traveled?

A.  One manatee named Chessie has been recorded as traveling all the way
from Florida to Rhode Island and back!


> From Emily Ar., Catherine, Thomas, and  Dan:  How many manatees are =
left
in the world?  Are they likely to become extinct and if so how long =
would
that take?

A.  . The last aerial survey of the Florida manatee population was done =
in
March 1999. The survey showed a population count of 2,353 manatees. A
synoptic survey is a statewide aerial survey designed to get a head =
count of
individual manatees. The success of synoptic surveys is very dependent =
on
weather conditions. If the weather is cold and clear, then manatees are
gathered around warm water sites, making it easier to get a "nose" =
count.
Synoptic surveys are not the most reliable way to determine overall =
manatee
population because so much depends on weather conditions, but they are =
the
only available method at present.

Outside of Florida, little is known about the population of West Indian
manatees or other sirenians in the world. By far, the largest population =
of
West Indian manatees is found in the U.S. (Florida). Elsewhere, they are
found in small population pockets throughout their range. All sirenian
species in the world are considered endangered.

A.  Manatees are definitely in danger of going extinct.  We don't know
exactly how long it will take for manatees to go extinct, but we do know
that their reproductive levels are low and their mortality level is =
high.
Also, loss of habitat is a serious threat to manatees today.  That is =
why
manatees are listed as endangered.  As long as those conditions exist,
manatees will be on the endangered species list.  To ensure the survival =
of
the manatee population, mortality levels must be reduced and their =
habitat
protected.  Because human-related manatee deaths are preventable, this =
is
the most logical way to reduce mortalities.

> From Will and Amy: Why does Jimmy Buffet want to save manatees?
Jimmy helped to start Save the Manatee Club in 1981 to get the public
involved in helping to save manatees from extinction.  In a newsletter
column Jimmy wrote for SMC's 10th anniversary, he said that he got =
involved
with helping to protect manatees because " the thought that the manatee
could become an extinct species was intolerable to me."

> From Dan N. and George: How did you first get involved with manatees?
A. I started as a volunteer with Save the Manatee Club in 1991.  I've =
always
been interested in helping to protect the environment, and I thought it =
was
a shame that so many manatees were dying, so that's why I decided to
volunteer.

> From Michael and Maddie D.: Are there different kinds of manatees?

The West Indian manatee (found in Florida) is also related to the West
African manatee, the Amazonian manatee (found in the Amazon River in =
South
American), and the dugong, found in the Indo-Pacific region of the =
world.


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

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To:  Sue Shirley, Dedham Country = Day School,=20 Dedham, MA

Dear Ms. Shirley and students:

Thanks so much = for your=20 questions.  We appreciate your interest in manatees!
You can = also find=20 out more information on manatees by visiting the SMC Web
site at http://www.savethemanatee.org.=   Go=20 to the "Manatee Info," "Manatee
FAQ," and "Manatee Links"=20 sections.

Nancy Sadusky
Save the Manatee Club

Here's = the=20 answers to your questions:

> From Emily A. and Maddie: Do = manatees=20 ever grow barnacles on them like
whales do? What do manatees = eat?

A.=20 Yes, manatees that are found in fresh water often have algae growing = on
their=20 backs.
 Manatees that are found in salt water sometimes will = have=20 barnacles
attached to them -- just
 like boats found in those = waters!

A. Manatees are herbivores (plant-eaters), feeding on a = large=20 variety of
submerged, emergent, and floating plants. Seagrass beds = are=20 important
feeding sites for manatees. Some favorite foods of manatees = include: Marine
vegetation: Manatee grass, turtle grass, shoal grass, = widgeon=20 grass.
Freshwater vegetation: Hydrilla, eelgrass, water hyacinth,=20 and
 water lettuce.

> From George D., Maggie, = Stephanie, and=20 Tim: How old do manatees get
beforethey die?

A.  Manatees = have no=20 natural enemies, and researchers believe that they can
live 60 years = or=20 more.

> From Sarah, Lily, Andrew, Hilary, Zach, and Lindy: How = can we=20 save
manatees?  How slow do they swim?  How long do the = babies stay=20 with their
mothers?

A. Great question!  There are lots of = things=20 that students can do to help
save manatees, even if you don't live in = Florida.  Here's some ideas for
you:

First, write a = letter to=20 Florida's Governor and tell him that you support
strong manatee = protection in=20 the state of Florida. This will help to
illustrate to policy makers = just how=20 important manatees are.
You can write, type, phone, fax, or e-mail. = It=20 doesn't matter whether you
live in state or outside of Florida or how = old you=20 are. ANY type of letter
or a call helps!

The Honorable Jeb = Bush
The=20 Capitol
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Phone: (850) 488-4441, Fax: (850)=20 487-0801
E-mail Governor Bush
at his web site: http://www.eog.= state.fl.us:/eog/govmailform.html

Second,=20 write your U.S. senator and representative Tell them how = important
manatees=20 are to you and ask them to support protection for manatees and
their = habitat=20 and to keep other environmental laws strong.  To find out = the
name of=20 your U.S. senator and representative, you can call (800) = 688-9889.
You can=20 also find out the name, address, and
environmental voting record of = your U.S.=20 senators and representative, by
visiting the League of Conservation = Voters=20 National Environmental
Scorecard on the Web at http://scorecard.lcv.org/.

= Here's=20 some other activities:
1. Learn all about manatees and why they are=20 endangered. Next, be a
"goodwill ambassador" for manatees. See the = following=20 suggestions or come up
with your own ideas to educate others about=20 manatees.
2. Give a speech about manatees to your class or to a group = or club=20 that you
belong to.
3. Paint a manatee mural on a wall in the = classroom at=20 school or create a
manatee scene for a bulletin board at home.  = Include=20 elements that manatees
need to survive and ideas about what students = can do=20 to help save them.
4. Put together a class presentation or a play = about=20 manatees.  Present it
to other classes or community = groups.
5. =20 Hold a "manatee march" at your school or in your neighborhood. =20 Make
signs that show things students can do to help save manatees and = other
wildlife.  Example: "Save Manatees," "Slow Your Boat = Down,"=20 "Please Don't
Feed Manatees," or "Don't Litter."
6.  Go to = visit a=20 local waterway.  Organize a cleanup to pick up litter = and
trash. =20 Even if you don't live in Florida, this activity will be = beneficial
to birds=20 and other wildlife.
7.  You can also visit the SMC web site and = go to=20 the "Take Action!"
section, you see lots of issues where you can take = action=20 to help save
manatees.

A.  Mother manatees nurse their = calves for=20 a long period and a calf may
remain dependent on its mother for up to = two=20 years.


> From Aaron and Nick:  What is the farthest = distance=20 a manatee has
traveled?

A.  One manatee named Chessie has = been=20 recorded as traveling all the way
from Florida to Rhode Island and=20 back!


> From Emily Ar., Catherine, Thomas, and  = Dan: =20 How many manatees are left
in the world?  Are they likely to = become=20 extinct and if so how long would
that take?

A.  . The = last aerial=20 survey of the Florida manatee population was done in
March 1999. The = survey=20 showed a population count of 2,353 manatees. A
synoptic survey is a = statewide=20 aerial survey designed to get a head count of
individual manatees. = The=20 success of synoptic surveys is very dependent on
weather conditions. = If the=20 weather is cold and clear, then manatees are
gathered around warm = water=20 sites, making it easier to get a "nose" count.
Synoptic surveys are = not the=20 most reliable way to determine overall manatee
population because so = much=20 depends on weather conditions, but they are the
only available method = at=20 present.

Outside of Florida, little is known about the population = of West=20 Indian
manatees or other sirenians in the world. By far, the largest=20 population of
West Indian manatees is found in the U.S. (Florida). = Elsewhere,=20 they are
found in small population pockets throughout their range. = All=20 sirenian
species in the world are considered = endangered.

A. =20 Manatees are definitely in danger of going extinct.  We don't=20 know
exactly how long it will take for manatees to go extinct, but we = do=20 know
that their reproductive levels are low and their mortality level = is=20 high.
Also, loss of habitat is a serious threat to manatees = today.  That=20 is why
manatees are listed as endangered.  As long as those = conditions=20 exist,
manatees will be on the endangered species list.  To = ensure the=20 survival of
the manatee population, mortality levels must be reduced = and=20 their habitat
protected.  Because human-related manatee deaths = are=20 preventable, this is
the most logical way to reduce = mortalities.

>=20 helped=20 to start Save the Manatee Club in 1981 to get the public
involved in = helping=20 to save manatees from extinction.  In a newsletter
column Jimmy = wrote=20 for SMC's 10th anniversary, he said that he got involved
with helping = to=20 protect manatees because " the thought that the manatee
could become = an=20 extinct species was intolerable to me."

> From Dan N. and = George: How=20 did you first get involved with manatees?
A. I started as a volunteer = with=20 Save the Manatee Club in 1991.  I've always
been interested in = helping=20 to protect the environment, and I thought it was
a shame that so many = manatees were dying, so that's why I decided = to
volunteer.

> From=20 Michael and Maddie D.: Are there different kinds of manatees?

The = West=20 Indian manatee (found in Florida) is also related to the West
African = manatee, the Amazonian manatee (found in the Amazon River in = South
American),=20 and the dugong, found in the Indo-Pacific region of the=20 world.

Nancy Sadusky
Communications = Director
Save=20 the Manatee Club
500 N. Maitland Ave.
Maitland, FL =20 32751
1-800-432-JOIN (5646)
http://www.savethemanatee.org<= /FONT>
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