Featured Image Source: Virgin Island News / James Reid
Manatees have made an impressive recovery since their days on the critically endangered species list.
Although they have made great progress, it is still important to protect these amazing animals. As their population grows, there are more opportunities to view these impressive creatures in their natural habitat.
However, as of late you might witness something unusual harassing these gentle giants.
Armored catfish have been increasing in numbers in recent years. And, as the invasive species really start to take hold of natural environments, they can be seen bothering manatees. The fish are not eating the manatees themselves, but they are eating the algae right off the back of manatees. Obviously, an uncomfortable experience for the manatees, they become
A biology professor at Stetson University, Melissa Gibbs, says, “you can see a manatee with 20, 30, or 40 catfish on it at worst. The catfish aren’t physically, directly damaging manatees. They annoy the heck out of them. And if manatees are twitching and moving around, they are burning calories. The harassment by the catfish indirectly affects the manatees that are then more prone to cold stress. ”
Some dedicated biologists are hunting down the catfish, but it may not be enough to stop the stress caused by the catfish.
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