I love manatees.
The West Indian (Florida) Manatee was once plentiful around the coast of Florida, but now its survival as a species is in jeopardy. Humans are the gentle herbivores’ only enemy, with our fishing lines ensnaring them, our pollution poisoning them, our boats striking them and our living space encroaching upon theirs. Heather Sellick of the US Scuba Center wrote “the manatee is one of the most magnificent marine mammals...it is also the one that tugs at our heart strings and reminds us of the great damage humans have inflicted on the creatures with whom we share this planet.”
Manatees are awesomely large, perfectly gentle creatures. How could anything so wonderful be at risk of extinction?
Manatees are intelligent (“capable of understanding discrimination tasks, and show signs of complex associated learning and advanced long term memory.” [Gerstein, E. R. (1994). The manatee mind: Discrimination training for sensory perception testing of West Indian manatees (Trichechus manatus). Marine Mammals 1: 10–21.] They demonstrate complex discrimination and task-learning similar to dolphins and pinnipeds in acoustic and visual studies. [Marine Mammal Medicine, 2001, Leslie Dierauf & Frances Gulland, CRC Press]. The manatee’s closest land relation is the elephant, not the cow, despite their being called sea cows in many parts of the world. They are thought to have evolved from four-legged land animals some 60 million years ago.
Think about it: Manatees have made it 60 million years on the Earth and now their survival is threatened.
I know that many of you share my concern and love for the manatee. That’s why, starting today and going to the end of the year, 25% of your purchase price on any items you select from my Etsy shop, or my web store, will go to the Save the Manatee Club. If you don’t see any vintage finery to suit you during these weeks, I encourage you to donate on this YouCaring page, where every cent you give will be channeled to SMC. My goal is to raise $650 [edit, now $1250!], and with your help I know this is possible.
For the Manatees,
(painting by Anna Davies/Anna Davies Art)