Sea to Shore Alliance’s manatee conservation specialists are providing the science and education to conserve manatees and their habitat.
Love-struck sailors mistook them for mermaids centuries ago and tourists still flock to destinations simply to view these gentle marine mammals. Sea to Shore Alliance shares this fascination and many of our staff members have devoted their lives to ensuring protections for manatees throughout a large portion of their range. Our own executive director, Dr. Buddy Powell, spent his childhood watching manatees in Crystal River, Florida, a spring system of critical conservation importance to manatees. His fascination for manatees grew while he was a teenager and was “contracted” to help Jacques Cousteau study them in Crystal River. Today, Buddy still leads research and educational expeditions to Crystal River, which has been preserved as a protected area for manatees and other species.
Due to the myriad threats plaguing the species, manatees have enjoyed protections within Florida for more than a century; Florida manatees first received protection under Florida state law in 1893, and by 1907 a person could be fined $500 and/or spend six months in jail for harassing or killing a manatee. Globally, there are three species of manatees: African, Amazonian, and West Indian, all listed as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List (International Union for Conservation of Nature). The West Indian population is divided into two sub-species: the Antillean and the Florida manatee, both listed as endangered by IUCN.” TO “The West Indian population is divided into two sub-species: the Antillean and the Florida manatee, both listed as endangered by IUCN. The latter was listed on the very first U.S. endangered species list developed in 1967 and remains an endangered species today. Florida manatees are protected by both the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act in the United States, and are the state marine mammal of Florida.
Our dedicated team at Sea to Shore Alliance works with all three species of manatees, conducting research and conservation activities resulting in positive impacts to manatees. Using satellite tagging, aerial surveys, photo identification and other tools, S2S is obtaining sound scientific data to help ensure the survival of manatees around the world. Our data is informing natural resource managers about critical habitats for manatees, such as springs and other warm water sources, which manatees need to survive. Our team monitors manatees through satellite tagging and observation to understand where they go to find shelter when their primary sources of warm water are no longer available along with summer migration routes and habitat use outside of Florida. We also engage in collaborative rescue activities when individuals succumb to cold stress. To reduce threats, we identify areas where conflict with humans, such as boat strikes or entanglement in fishing gear, is further endangering manatees. Our scientists, through aerial surveys, capturing, tagging, and behavioral observations, are discovering new information about manatees that are vital for survival. These activities are extremely important to conservation efforts to ensure that the manatee population does not begin to decline in the face of increasing future threats.