EFA: Etsy For Animals Etsy For Animals: Make Way for Manatees

Etsy for Animals (EFA) aka Artists Helping Animals,

is a team of independent artists, craftspeople,

vintage sellers and craft suppliers on Etsy.com

who are dedicated to providing charitable relief to animals

by donating a portion of the profits from their shops

to an animal charity of their choosing,

and/or to EFA's featured Charity of the Month.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Make Way for Manatees

Manatee Awareness Month

Make Way for Manatees !

by Corinna of TheFrogBag

West Indian Manatee

November is Manatee Awareness Month. Why November, and not, say, June? Manatees, also known as sea cows, are tropical animals after all. Honoring them during warm weather would seem to make more sense. There’s the rub, and the reason this for an "Awareness" month and not a "Celebration" month.

West Indian manatees, the kind found in Florida, are quite endangered. There are probably fewer than 5,000 in the United States. Despite being Florida's official marine mammal many people don't even know they exist. And this can cost a sea cow its life. Slow moving, docile, and inoffensive are the top three manatee traits. Add to that a hatred of cold water and you have a recipe for disaster during the winter.

During the summer, when the Gulf of Mexico is referred to as feeling "like a comfortable bathtub" in tourist brochures, manatees spread out and even move up the Eastern Seaboard as far as Massachusetts. But when cold weather hits they tend to congregate in warmer areas: near hot springs, power plant outflows, and estuaries. There they laze around near the surface, munching on aquatic vegetation, a testament to the joys of the slow life. That is, until they come into contact with a motorboat.

The problem is simply that humans like to go fast. And often they don't watch where they're going. Even when manatees see these boats coming they can't physically get out of the way fast enough to avoid a strike. Their paddle-like tails can propel them at up to 20 miles an hour in short bursts, but 3 miles an hour is more typical. And many boats go much faster than 20 miles an hour.

So, what can you do to help the manatees? The single most important thing is simple: spread the word!

A nasty rumor has been making the rounds in Florida, claiming that legislation setting aside protected areas for manatees is really a power grab by the United Nations. Not true, of course. Still, many people were so ignorant about the issue that they believed it and the measure went down to defeat.

Feel ready to take on propaganda like that? The Save the Manatee Club: http://savethemanatee.org is a great resource.

If you live near a body of water that might shelter manatees you can have them send you a snazzy free waterproof sign that says “Please Slow – Manatees Below”. Posting it will warn folks not to speed and may even spark a conversation.

But what if you’re the one boating? There are plenty of things you can do to reduce the chances of a manatee collision. For instance, wearing polarizing sunglasses cuts the glare on the water and allows you to see large objects (or sea cows) beneath the surface.

Look for shallow sea grass beds where manatees may be feeding and try to skirt them. Recycle or properly dispose of your trash, especially uncut six-pack rings and monofilament line that could ensnare an unwary aquatic animal. And always, be aware! If you see a swirl or flat spot on the water’s surface a manatee may be swimming just below.

Manatees are bizarre, majestic, gentle, and intriguing. Related to elephants, they can live upwards of 60 years in the wild and have no natural predators. Even so, something as avoidable as boat strikes may drive them to extinction.

So spread the word.

Make someone aware of manatees today!


  1. Team EFA is so wonderful for always encouraging awareness for the spectacular animals that need our help in the world. A fantastic post from my favorite team <3

  2. GREAT article! I visited Florida years ago and can completely understand the danger they're in. (and thanks for including my "Fishing in Oregon" print to help illustrate the story!)

  3. Thanks for reading, Jessica and Alex! I'm so glad there are other manatee lovers out there... EFA members are the best!


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