Ocean animals are some of the most wondrous creatures on the planet as they are frequently inaccessible to humans. That is, at least compared to their land-residing counterparts. Many of these creatures have the ability to freely roam the sea, a place much less accessible for everyday humans. However, one of the ocean’s most graceful inhabitants is manatees. Recently, a Florida lifeguard captured a video of a large herd of the animals swimming along the beach. Check it out.
The affectionately nicknamed “sea cows” passed through the shallows of Florida’s Miramar Beach on August 19th.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida’s manatees, as well as manatees internationally, are considered endangered. There are currently only 7,500 in the wild.
What Puts Manatees At Risk of Extinction?
As is frequently the case when it comes to environmental and wildlife threats, humans are the driving cause behind the manatees’ endangerment. According to Ocean Today, a site maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), there are two major threats putting the large sea mammals in jeopardy. These include a loss of their natural habitat and overly frequent collisions with boats and ships.
The outlet stated that new developments built along waterways are destroying natural manatee nesting areas. Additionally, sewer, manure, and fertilizer run-off lead to algal blooms. In this case, some algae become toxic and, should the large animals consume that algae, it can kill them. Overall, what makes their case even direr is that manatees don’t have any natural predators.
After all, they average 10 feet in length and reach up to 1,200 pounds. Definitely not a quick meal for a hungry predator. Their case is extensively sad as they approach extinction as they have no natural ability for aggression and are actually quite curious and relatively gentle when around humans. They additionally keep seagrass beds short and overall play a very important role in the maintenance of oceanic ecosystems.
Floridian Sealife Saw Major Losses During July’s Red Tide
In addition to boating collisions and housing developments, most recently, Florida’s ocean-dwelling manatees, among other creatures, experienced major losses. Late June and mid-July saw an intense red tide. And although it happens annually, it does not naturally occur on such extreme levels or around this time in Tampa Bay.
For those occupying inland residences away from oceanic environments, a red tide occurs when there is a large “bloom” of toxic algae. The NPR stated that the bloom takes place on the Florida Gulf Coast about once a year. Although summertime blooms are unnatural. Typically, red tide occurs in fall and concludes in January.
According to NOAA Oceanographer, Richard Stumpf, “This is not normal. The fact that it’s [only] been three years since the last [major red tide] is not good.”
In 2018, toxic blooms were so intense, large mammals like dolphins and manatees rapidly washed up on shores along with tons of fish. This year, the bloom saw more than 600 tons of dead oceanic creatures wash up.
In response to the red tide, Floridian Maya Burke said, “[the bay] is really hurting right now.” She said affected creatures include small foraging fish all the way up to dolphins and manatees. At the time she said, “If it’s swimming in the bay, right now it’s washing up dead.”