Manatees are no longer “enadangered,” only “threatened.”
Photo by Keith Ramos, via Flickr user USFWS Endangered Species
Congrats to manatees, who are no longer in immediate danger of being wiped out as a species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Commission has announced that the West Indian manatee is being downgraded from “endangered” to “threatened,” based on classification guidelines outlined in the Endangered Species Act. This means that these gentle sea mammals aren’t going extinct right now but might go extinct in the future, which no doubt comes as a huge relief to the humans who created the environmental conditions that threaten the existence of such creatures.
“The manatee is one of the most charismatic and instantly recognizable species,” said Michael Bean, of Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior, in a press statement. “It’s hard to imagine the waters of Florida without them, but that was the reality we were facing before manatees were listed under the Endangered Species Act. While there is still more work to be done to fully recover manatee populations, their numbers are climbing and the threats to the species’ survival are being reduced.”
Over the years, fish and wildlife organizations have worked to create more than 50 manatee protection areas in which “retrofitted water control structures” help protect wintering manatee populations. They’ve also been collaborating with the Coast Guard to help prevent the manatees from being harmed by propeller-driven boats and ships. In 1991, there were only about 1,267 manatees floating in Florida waters. Today, they number more than 6,300 in those same waters.