Droves of Dead Blue Carbon Shepherds – Manatees SOS

SAN FRANCISCO — Woefully out of touch Floridian lawmakers have thrown nature’s indispensable carbon-keepers, manatees, under the bus. So far in 2021, almost a thousand peaceful sea cows have died. Unprecedented.

Dead Manatees
Where are the animals supposed to live on this Florida island? Credit: Wikimedia

Unbridled development, fossil fuel and wood pellet heatpoisonsvessel strikesred tidessewage and agricultural runofffertilizer factories disgorgingplastics, and the former Trump administration lessening protection by downgrading from endangered to threatened status, have fast-tracked Florida’s manatees to extinction.

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Over the previous decade, 55 percent of manatee necropsies revealed plasma riddled with glyphosate (RoundUp), a known cancer-causing herbicide. Since 1974, about 20 billion pounds of this dreadful carcinogen has been spewed far and wide across the biosphere. Enough is enough, Bayer!

There are laws in Florida that protect the manatees, yet during the past decade almost no enforcement has occurred. The lawmakers have shamefully failed to fulfill their obligations to defend the manatees and the Atlantic and Gulf ecosystems. 

Dead Manatees
By grazing the sea grasses, manatees stimulate the shoots. These splendid shepherds keep the weeds from choking out the meadow grasses. Manatees must consume about 15 percent of their body weight, or, ~175 pounds, of sea grasses and weeds daily. Credit Ocala/Marion County

Everything on this blue planet is interconnected, interdependent and interrelated. Manatees play a vital role as shepherds of the sea grass meadows.

Those superb sea grasses provide nurseries for fish including my favorite, sharks, feeding grounds for sea turtles and migratory birds, a frontline defense against storm surges and floodwaters, and a natural filtration system that boosts water quality, recharges aquifers and sustains terrestrial life.

Vibrant sea grass meadows, along with saltwater marshes and mangroves, sequester vast amounts of carbon in their leaves and shoots, storing it for safekeeping in their roots and soils. Together, these elegant ecosystems are referred to as a zone of blue carbon.

These remarkable coastal wetlands are estimated to store deep within their soils five times as much carbon as the Amazon, Congolese and Indo/Malayan tropical rainforests. Holy cow!

Dead Manatees
Calves stay close to their mothers for the first couple of years while they learn the ropes. Credit: NYT

As Florida’s sea grasses, saltwater marshes and mangroves have been destroyed by man’s insatiable demand for more . . . energy, concrete, toys, trinkets, McMansions, golf courses, yacht clubs, nuclear power plants and wastewater treatment facilities, the ability to hold onto stored carbon and feed the natural food chain, including manatees, has gone by the wayside.

Dead Manatees
For a $25 annual fee (plus registration fees), Floridians can help conservation of the species. Credit: Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida

Quite simply, the loss of the manatees is Florida’s last wake-up call. No manatees. No sea grasses. No life.

We can no longer wait for Florida elected officials to protect anything other than their own wretched bulging billfolds.

We, the Earth defenders, demand that the Indigenous Peoples and the Gen Zs are front and center for all future natural resource decisions.

In general, men throughout the ages have ransacked and looted Mother Earth with impunity. Under their watch, our only home is facing rapacious man-driven global heating, unconscionable man-escalated extinction and hideous man-made poisons. It’s time for women to run the world!


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Reese Halter is a forest/ocean defender.
His latest book is GenZ Emergency.
Email: HalterBooks@gmail.com for your autographed copy.
In Australia, order from the Bob Brown Foundation by emailing: Contact@BobBrown.org.au


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