As animals are now found up the eastern seaboard to Virginia, and across the Gulf Coast to Texas, thermal pollution outfalls are encouraging manatees to venture into areas where they have previously never been. With numbers growing into the thousands at some individual sites in Florida, water quality has been impacted, seagrasses have been impacted, and other species have suffered.
It is our belief that while the manatee has been listed as “endangered,” State and Federal agencies have been unable to manage Florida’s aquatic habitats as a holistic resource. They were forced via lawsuits, Federal acts, political pressure, and a massive public relations campaign to engage in a single-species initiative that compromised the ability of regulators to look at proactive long-term programs to ensure the health of our estuaries, our waterways, and our coastal regions.
It is our sincere hope that once the Manatee is down-listed, efforts can begin to re-evaluate the health of our degrading aquatic habitats, and programs can begin that will benefit all of the species that call our coastal regions “home”.