The manatees in Southwest Florida are Florida manatees, a subspecies of the West Indian manatee.
While the population of Florida manatees may be growing or stable in much of Florida, the population in Southwest Florida has historically been decreasing. Exacerbating the negative growth rate is the fact that the Florida manatee population is troubled with low genetic diversity.
Threats to Florida manatees only grow in number as development increases near manatee habitat, which may result in loss of important seagrass foraging areas, additional boat traffic, or reductions in habitats where they rest.
Another impact to manatees is lowered water quality from nutrient pollution and one source of nutrient pollution is fertilizer.
Boats are also a cause for concern; roughly one-quarter of manatee mortalities are caused by collisions with watercraft. Boats may also negatively impact underwater vegetation via physical damage, pollution, or the spread of invasive species.
Lee County is one of the most deadly counties to manatees from boat collisions.
One of the most critical issues to the manatee is related to the mismanagement of freshwater flow into manatee habitat within the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary. Manatees forage on underwater vegetation, including tapegrass, and tapegrass needs a particular level of freshwater and water conditions to survive.
Unfortunately, freshwater levels in the Caloosahatchee River are consistently too high or too low and this can drastically affect the manatees' food. If this is the case, manatees may have to travel away from warm water points or into potentially deadly boat traffic in order to find adequate food supplies, further threatening the species.
To promote better water management, the Conservancy works with stakeholders and decision-makers to ensure that stringent water management tools and best practices are in place and utilized.
Fertilizers placed on your lawn to make the grasses grow can have the same effect on algae species in our waterways – help them grow. The resulting blooms can kill fish and other aquatic organisms.
The Florida Panther Pilot Compensation Program provides financial assistance to help alleviate financial hardship that small farms may experience due to Florida panthers preying on their free-ranging cattle.
1495 Smith Preserve Way Naples, Florida 34102
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239-262-0304 phone 239-262-0672 fax
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