Give a Manatee!
Love those sweet-natured manatees or know someone who does? Join the Club! Save the Manatee Club, that is. Thousands of people around the world have become members by “adopting” one or more of the 32 manatees featured in Save the Manatee Club’s three Florida adoption programs, to help protect the endangered marine mammals. Manatee adoptions are often given as gifts, and with Easter coming up, this is a great alternative to candy and the usual fare.
Maureen Dalessio from Pennsylvania adopted manatees for her young nieces and nephew in South Jersey last year for Easter. “I wanted to do something to help with the conservation of these docile, adorable animals,” said Maureen. “So, instead of giving the typical chocolate Easter bunny in a basket, I thought that a fluffy little toy manatee along with the adoption photo and papers of real manatees – Ginger, Brutus, Ariel and Betsy – would be a much healthier present all around, for the child recipients, and the manatees!”
It was while visiting SeaWorld in California ten years ago that Maureen first learned about manatees and was immediately smitten with their gentle ways. She felt it was important to share her experience and knowledge. “I hope that when my nieces and nephew are fully grown, the manatees will be thriving and worry free from the many dangers they face now,” she explained.
For a $25 tax-deductible donation, the Club will send an adoption certificate, photo of a real Florida manatee, biography, and a fact-filled handbook, to anyone, anywhere in the world. They’ll also receive a subscription to the Club’s quarterly newsletter, The Manatee Zone, and the bi-monthly e-newsletter, Paddle Tales. Or for a $35 tax-deductible donation, each new member who joins the Adopt-A-Manatee program online will also receive a plush manatee toy.
The manatee population in Florida, estimated to be about 3,000, is listed at the state, federal, and international levels as endangered.
Patrick Rose, Executive Director of Save the Manatee Club, points out that in 2006, a record-setting 417 manatees died in Florida, and hundreds more died in 2007. “The population cannot sustain these losses year after year,” he said. “Every future risk assessment done by the state or federal government predicts catastrophic declines in the future unless specific remedial measures are taken in time.”
Most adult manatees living in the wild bear scars from watercraft collisions. In fact, manatee scars are so prevalent, researchers use them as a method of identifying individual manatees.
Other human-related threats include loss of warm-water habitat and destruction of habitat associated with development and climate change.
A concerned manatee advocate, Maureen says she feels it’s everyone’s responsibility to respect and help conserve the endangered manatee. “Save the Manatee Club does a great job of educating the public and implementing steps in keeping the manatees protected, “ said Maureen. “I just adopted two more manatees as gifts for my brother and my friend in hopes of getting them involved as well.”
The Club’s Adopt-A-Manatee program helps to fund education and public awareness endeavors; research, rescue, rehabilitation, and release projects; and advocacy and legal efforts to help protect manatees and their habitat. Save the Manatee Club, a national, nonprofit advocacy organization, has been working to protect manatees and their habitat for over twenty-six years.
Unlike most other animal adoption programs, the Club’s adoption programs feature real manatees. If you time your visit just right, you may be able to see your adopted manatees at their preferred Florida winter refuges.
For more information about manatees and adopting one as an Easter gift, contact Save the Manatee Club at 500 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland, FL 32751, call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646), or visit their web site at www.savethemanatee.org where you can also sign up for the Club’s free E-Newsletter.