Featured Image Credit: ThinkStock
OH HAPPY DAY!
After decades of hard work, protection and strict legislation, the West Indian Manatee has been reclassified. Thanks to notable population increases, the US Fish and Wildlife Services (FWS) has changed the sea cow’s status to Threatened on the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke released a statement saying, “The Fish and Wildlife Service has worked hand in hand with state and local governments, businesses, industry, and countless stakeholders over many years to protect and restore a mammal that is cherished by people around the world. Without this type of collaboration and the commitment of state and local partners, this downlisting would not have been possible.”The West Indian manatee has a range that includes the Florida manatee subspecies, found primarily in the southeastern United States, and the Antillean manatee, found in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Central America, northern South America and the Greater and Lesser Antilles. (Range Map Below Image Credit)
According to the FWS press release, “The downlisting means that the manatee is no longer considered in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range, but is likely to become so in the foreseeable future without continued ESA protections.”
To ensure that this milestone continues to produce positive benefits for the species, FWS biologists strongly emphasizes that the manatee remain protected on the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Today’s estimated population of 6,620 Florida manatees is a dramatic turnaround from the 1970s, when just a few hundred individuals remained.
Way to go sea cows! Make sure to follow these Do’s & Don’ts of Swimming with Manatees.