Why Mammals are Important to Florida – NBC 6 South Florida

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Gentle, beautiful, and very large – all words are used to describe the manatee, a mammal that lives in Florida and the Caribbean.

JP Brooker, director of the Florida Conservation Program, the nation’s oldest marine conservation nonprofit, said when manatees begin to suffer, Florida begins to suffer, too.

“Manatees are an important species to Florida’s environment, and in fact, manatees are the canary in the coal mine for many environmental problems,” Brooker said. ”

Florida is a maritime state and relies on its beaches and marine life not only environmentally but also economically.

“Our economy is directly tied to healthy beaches,” Brooker said. “A healthy Florida beach and environment contributes billions of dollars to our state’s GDP.”

Manatees have recently faced unusual mortality rates. In just the past two years, the manatee population has declined by 25%, and manatees are starving to death as human pollution depletes the seagrass that the mammals feed on. But Brooker said he’s hopeful that with the help of Floridians, manatees will bounce back.

So what can South Floridians do to help? Avoid fertilizing lawns during the rainy season, invest in better coastal infrastructure, and avoid fertilizing lawns during the rainy season to keep harmful chemicals from leaching into coastal waters. Get involved in the election process to help keep Florida’s water clean.

“No one wants to live in Florida if our environment is at risk. Thousands of people come here for some of our sunshine, beaches and ocean. ” Brooker said.

One important thing Floridians can do is ask the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect manatees by relisting them as endangered marine mammals under the Endangered Species Act. Please call your local representative to make this change.

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