July 17, 2011
I don’t know how much you know about manatees, but they are my daughter’s favorite animal, so much so that she did her 7th grade Science Fair project on boat hulls and their impact on manatees. Did you know that boat hulls cause as much damage as propellers to manatees? Well, now I do after her project.
One reason I mention this is that a famous manatee, Chessie, was just sighted again in the Chesapeake Bay. Chessie — who was named for the bay — was last sighted here in 1994, and was identified by his markings, which were probably caused by a propeller. Here’s the link to a news story in the Baltimore Sun:
Manatees are really cool animals which are endangered primarily because of our actions, such as invading their habitat and not being careful about boat speed in known manatee areas. During our winter trip to Florida in 2010, we kayaked among the manatees and learned a great deal about the habits of these animals, such as in Florida, they tend to stay in areas of less than 9 feet in depth, and are often close to the surface, which is why they are subject to collisions from boat hulls and propellers. In known manatee areas, boats are encouraged to go no more than 5 mph, to permit manatees to get out of the way when the boats are around. However, there are lots of people who don’t get that, and choose to speed everywhere. And other clods choose to chase the manatees around, often separating calves from their parents, or trying to ride on their fins. Don’t get me started on these yahoos.
Chessie is a manatee we know of because when my daughter was deciding which manatee she would adopt through the Save the Manatee Club (http://www.savethemanatee.org/), we considered Chessie because we live by the bay. However, we think Ilya might be an even more famous manatee.
In any case, now that the book Make Way for Ducklings is now celebrating its 60th year, I think it’s time for a Make Way for Manatees book. What do you think?