Today is a good day. Not because of many things going on the world, which are decidedly not great. But some things are still good, and one of them is the fact that manatees have officially been downgraded from an “endangered” species to the “threatened” list only. While the species isn’t completely secure after this move, it’s certainly heartening that manatee populations have rebounded after coming so close to no longer appearing in the wild. The specific type of manatee downgraded is the West Indian Manatee, so this improvement is unfortunately not an across-the-board type of thing for each various type.
However, it is something that would have been unexpected only a few years ago after the manatee population was decimated throughout its various habitats in Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, among other locations. In a statement about the downgrading, the US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said,
“The Fish and Wildlife Service has worked hand in hand with state and local governments, businesses, industry, and countless stakeholders over many years to protect and restore a mammal that is cherished by people around the world. Without this type of collaboration and the commitment of state and local partners, this downlisting would not have been possible.”
Also cited in the promising announcement was the official number of current manatees living in Florida, which total more than 6,600 after dwindling to just a few hundred before measures were put in place to protect the animals.
Just because manatees are not officially endangered anymore doesn’t mean those measures are also being removed though, as it is more important than ever to maintain the current momentum and continue to rejuvenate populations around the world. Jim Kurth, acting director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service explained,
“While there is still more work to be done to fully recover manatee populations, particularly in the Caribbean, manatee numbers are increasing and we are actively working with partners to address threats. Today we both recognize the significant progress we have made in conserving manatee populations while reaffirming our commitment to continuing this species’ recovery and success throughout its range.”
Even with those few caveats, this announcement still means great things for manatees and is a testament to the importance of human intervention to protecting endangered species. This manatee is so excited about the big newsthat he could eat a scuba diver!