A few days ago the story was something like “POLICE LOOKING FOR WOMAN WHO RODE MANATEE,” but now we know who she is and the waters around Fort De Soto Park are safe once more!
…Honestly, I feel pretty bad for the woman (and the manatee), who is now the face/body of “manatee molestation,” even if she did do something inexplicably stupid that also happens to be illegal. Authorities have reported that the manatee didn’t seem to be physically hurt. As for mentally…well, we just don’t know.
On the upside, her manatee joy ride has surely spread awareness about manatees across the intarwubs. In case you forgot, manatees are endangered; don’t touch or harass ‘em. But feel free to adopt them!
In concluding the International Year of Biodiversity, the good news is that manatees are still with us, the bad news is that manatee deaths in U.S. waters continue to climb. In 2009, there were 429 reported manatee deaths, which was about double the number from 2008. As of December 2010, however, manatee deaths totaled 699.
Of the several factors that can cause manatee deaths, the most common one is human-caused: boat collisions. According to the Florida State Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), 97 of 2010′s manatee death were due to boats or other water craft. That number seems consistent from year to year.
However, another death-factor has entered the survival game and is out-pacing boat strike deaths; a growing number of manatee deaths are the result of hypothermia – manatees experiencing “cold stress” resulting from entry into/contact with much colder waters. The FWS estimates that 244 of last year’s manatee deaths (nearly one third) were due to exposure to cold water.
What happens to manatees when the weather is too cold? BAD STUFF:
Manatees are particularly sensitive to cold. When the temperature drops below 68 degrees, they seek refuge in the warmer water flowing from springs and power plant outfalls. Normally, it’s a slow death. Their skin develops lesions, their metabolism slows and they stop eating. Generally they succumb to secondary infections.