Subject: Info: Florida's manatees dying in ne (fwd)

Michael Williamson (williams)
Mon, 5 Jan 1996 09:18:11

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From: Michael Williamson <williams@whale.simmons.edu>
Subject: Info: Florida's manatees dying in ne (fwd)
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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 5 Jan 96 04:13:00 UTC 0000
From: r.mallon1@genie.com
To: marmam@uvvm.uvic.ca, williams@whale.simmons.edu
Subject: Florida's manatees dying in ne
 
Florida's manatees dying in near-record number
 
    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla, Jan 3 (Reuter) - Florida recorded its
second-highest death toll of endangered manatees in 1995 as 201
of the gentle, slow-moving sea cows died in protected state
waters, officials said on Wednesday.
     Officials said they were alarmed by the high number of
deaths, surpassed only by the 206 recorded in 1990 when a fierce
cold snap boosted the toll, but were encouraged by indications
that deaths resulting from human activity were down.
     Of the 201 deaths, fifty-five were related to human
activity, compared to 70 in 1994, when the death toll was 193.
     "What we did see in 1995 is a downturn in the number of
manatee deaths caused by human activity," said Scott Wright, a
scientist at the Florida Marine Research Institute. "That means
public awareness is up, many boaters are slowing down and
manatees are being better protected."
     Manatees, which frequent warm, shallow water, are mammals
that often drift just below the surface of the water, leaving
them prey to speeding boats. Many bear deep scars from boat
propellers.
     The state's population of manatees -- lumbering vegetarians
that can grow to 15 feet (4.5 metres) in length and a ton in
weight -- has been decimated as the number of registered boats
in Florida has doubled from about 400,000 to 800,000 since 1974,
officials said.
     There are believed to be only about 1,800 manatees, whose
origins date back 45 million years, remaining in Florida waters,
state biologists said. The entire state of Florida has been
decreed a manatee sanctuary.