Tell the FWS: Protect the manatees by protecting their habitat

Between Jan. 1 and Oct. 8 of this year, 968 manatees have died. In short, Florida's manatees are starving to death.

Pollution from farms and sewers has been fueling algal blooms that darken the waters and starve the coast's seagrass of sunlight. Without seagrass, the manatees have no food. In an important overwintering site for the marine mammals, the seagrass has declined by 58% as a result of this process. The threats to this habitat sit at the root of the danger facing Florida's manatees -- yet the FWS hasn't yet evaluated the threats facing the areas it designates as the manatees' "critical habitat," nor has it updated its definition of the manatees' critical habitat since 1976.

To respond to this mass die-off event -- and to prevent the next one -- the FWS will need accurate and up-to-date information about the manatees' habitat, the threats facing it and how to protect it. For that reason, I write to urge the FWS to revise and expand the manatees' critical habitat.