Endangered Oceanic Species          Manatees & Dugongs

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Highly evolved Key West Manatee. Photo by Liza Schillo

Manatees and Dugongs, or sea cows as they are sometimes referred to,  are large, aquatic mammals with tapering bodies that end in a flat, paddle-shaped tail. They have two forelimbs, referred to as flippers and their head and face are wrinkled with whiskers on the snout. Their closest land relatives are the hyrax and the elephant. There are a number of species throughout the world, including the West Indian manatee, found in the southern United States coastal waters and the Caribbean, the West African manatee, the Amazonian manatee, and the marine dugong, found in the Pacific Ocean primarily in northern Australian waters between Shark Bay in Western Australia and Moreton Bay in Queensland.

Manatees are a migratory species, and the West Indian manatee for example, while concentrated in Florida, can also be found in the summer months as far west as Texas and as far north as Virginia. Manatees and Dugongs are gentle, slow moving creatures, and most of their times is spent eating, resting and in migration. They are completely herbivorous and can consume up to 15% of their total body weight in vegetation daily.  They typically graze for food along the bottom and surfaces of lakes, rivers and estuaries. The ocean dwelling dugongs live also mainly on plants and they graze on seagrasses, which form meadows in sheltered coastal waters.

West Indian Manatees  have no natural enemies and most mortalities and injuries are from interaction with man, primarily collisions with boats.  Other threats include dam gates and canal locks and flood control structures, ingestion of fish hooks, trash and monofilament line, vandalism, entanglement in crab trap lines and loss of habitat. They can live 60 years or more and are protected as a species in America under the Marine Mammal Act of 1972, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978.

 

LINKS

The links below will take you to some great websites about manatees and dugongs.
The best sites to start for general information are marked with a star .
If you have a site that you think should be listed,
please email me.

Official, Scientific & Governmental Sites
Endangered Species Organizations
Manatee Observation -Tours, Dive Sites & Parks
Other Countries
Commercial Websites
Personal Websites

Mass Extinction of Species

 OFFICIAL, SCIENTIFIC & GOVERNMENTAL SITES

The Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums
The Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums is an international association representing marine life parks, aquariums, zoos, research facilities, and professional organizations dedicated to the highest standards of care for marine mammals and to their conservation in the wild through public education, scientific study, and wildlife presentations.

American Scientist Online Article on Manatees, Bioacoustics and Boats
An interesting article suggesting innovations in boat motors that may prevent collisions with Manatees.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute: Manatees
The website of the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute located in St. Petersburg, FL.

Florida Manatee Recovery Program
Adobe Acrobat, pdf document -US Fish and Wildlife Service, Third Revision.

Help The Manatees
A Defender of Wildlife Project website.

Kids Only Manatees & Dugongs
Published by the Center For Marine Conservation, 1996 Special Edition produced by the United Nations Environment Programme.

Manatees in South Carolina
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
.

Marine Mammal Commission
The Marine Mammal Commission is an independent agency of the U.S. Government, established under Title II of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. It was created to provide independent oversight of the marine mammal conservation policies and programs being carried out by the federal regulatory agencies.

Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972

Marine Mammal Protection Act Amendments of 1994

Marine Mammal Stranding Center
Dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of marine mammals and sea turtles.

Save The Manatee Club
An important non-profit website dedicated to saving Manatees.

Sirenian International
Another important non-profit website. Sirenian International, Inc., is a grassroots organization of people who share a dedication to manatee & dugong research, education, and conservation -a partnership of scientists, students, educators, conservationists, and the public.

Sirenews
Newsletter of Society For Marine Mammalogy, IUCN/SSC Sirenia Specialist Group.

Smithsonian Institute -References on the Sirenia
The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History has an online bibliography that lists printed publications relating to manatees or dugongs. The bibliography is divided into three categories: technical, general, and periodicals. Several references are also available for young students in the general and periodical categories. A great resource for projects or reports.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973
The United States governmental act that officially protects American Manatees and other endangered species.

The Manatee Halfway House
The only South Florida manatee treatment center which is licensed by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service. A facility of the Miami River Marine Group.

The Wonderful World of the Manatee
A privately produced general information website dedicated to protecting manatees.

US Fish and Wildlife Service Manatee Profile
US Fish and Wildlife Service site -excellent resource.

US Geological Survey Manatee Information
USGS works in partnership with  Federal and State agencies and private organizations to study manatee life history, behavior, ecology, and population biology.

Wildtracks
Satellite Tracking of Manatees

ENDANGERED SPECIES ORGANZATIONS

ICUN World Conservation Union
The World Conservation Union is the world’s largest and most important conservation network. The Union brings together 82 States, 111 government agencies, more than 800 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and some 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries in a unique worldwide partnership. The Union’s mission is to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.

United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre
The United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) is the biodiversity assessment and policy implementation arm of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the world's foremost intergovernmental environmental organization.

US Fish & Wildlife Webpages on Endangered Species
The American endangered species list maintained by the US Fish & Wildlife Service

Word Conservation Union ICUN Red List of Endangered Species

IUCN - The World Conservation Union, through its Species Survival Commission (SSC) has for four decades been assessing the conservation status of species, subspecies, varieties and even selected subpopulations on a global scale in order to highlight species threatened with extinction, and therefore promote their conservation.

MANATEE OBSERVATION -TOURS, DIVE SITES & PARKS

Bird's Underwater Manatee Tours
Crystal River, Florida

Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park
Florida park that serves as a rehabilitation center and refuge for endangered West Indian manatees.

Scubabyte: Manatees
Scuba resource directory websites page on manatees

OTHER COUNTRIES

Endangered Jamaican Manatees
Addresses the plight of the endangered population of Manatees in Jamaica.

Fundacion Salvemos al Manati de Costa Rica
The website of the Foundation To Save Manatees in Costa Rica.

COMMERCIAL SITES

Seaworld Education Resource Department: Manatees

Manatee information page by Sea World/ Busch Gardens in Florida

PERSONAL  WEBSITES

Manatee
An online journal of an eight-day photographic encounter with Manatees in Homosassa Springs, Florida

Manatee Haven

A small one-page personal website.

Manatees
A small one-page informational website

MASS EXTINCTION OF SPECIES

 

American Museum of Natural History Statement  

The IUCN Red List of Endangered Species

Professor David  Ulansey's Website -Mass Extinction Underway