Not since I was invited to swim with manatees at the age of seven but rejected the offer because they were big and scary and yes they ate only seagrass and moved so slowly they were often hit by boats but did I know that? No! have I been this emotional about the best creature on Earth.
BuzzFeed notes that The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has suggested that the West Indian manatee be moved from the “endangered” species list to the “threatened” list because humans—the manatee’s only predator, and a pathetically accidental one at that—have stopped being so shitty to it. Manatees have been on the endangered species list since 1973, but it’s only in the past several decades that conservation groups and the government have actively worked to stop them from running into motorboats and getting killed by other human-created water contraptions. This downgrade would not remove those protections, but give them more flexibility.
In 1991, surveys indicated that there were slightly more than 1,000 manatees in Florida: today, there are over 6,000 out of at least 13,000 manatees total—“a 500 percent increase in the species population in that state.” It should be noted, however, that downgrading the manatee from endangered to threatened was prompted by Save Crystal River, Inc., a group of people who like boating and seem to think the manatees are doing just fine, thankyouverymuch. They’re represented by the Pacific Legal Fund (“Rescuing Liberty From Coast to Coast”).
The Center for Biological Diversity refutes the possibility that manatees are not still endangered.
“The Florida manatee has come a long way but is still threatened by boat strikes, cold stress and undiagnosed mass die-offs in the Indian River Lagoon” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “In the face of these chronic and mounting challenges, the Service should not move forward with downlisting without a proven, viable plan for further reducing boat strike mortality and for preserving vital warm water habitat.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service will make their decision after the 90-day public comment period closes. Regardless, rejoice! One of the world’s dumbest but most peaceful creatures is somewhat thriving, giving all of us who bumble around on land hope.
In honor of the success of the manatee, please enjoy this deeply relaxing video.
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Gif via YouTube.