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Florida Manatees Deserve an Upgrade!

Honorable Director Martha Williams U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1849 C Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20240 Assistant Director Gary Frazer Ecological Services 5275 Leesburg Pike Baileys Crossroads, VA 22041 Assistant Regional Director Dr. Catherine Phillips Ecological Services, Southeast Region 1875 Century Boulevard Atlanta, GA 30345 RE: Florida Manatees Deserve an Upgrade! Honorable Director Williams, Assistant Director Frazer, and Assistant Regional Director Phillips, This Manatee Monday, we are writing in support of restoring the manatees' endangered status. In 2021, a record 1,101 Florida manatees died. This was the deadliest year on record, compared even to 2018 when there were 824 manatee losses. Only five months into 2022, and over 500 manatees have already fallen to this Unusual Mortality Event. If this trend remains at the current rate, we are going to see a potential loss of 1,500 manatees this year. While we claim to have progressed in terms of local, state, and federal environmental regulations, it seems that we have actually done the opposite. Delisting manatees from the Endangered Species List was an ill-fated decision. We must restore their status and ensure that vital protections are put in place for manatees and their critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act. Action is needed to protect manatees and our local waters from harmful pesticide practices and agricultural runoff that leads to red tides and massive algal blooms. We urge you to collaborate with your co-agencies, including the EPA, to propose regulations to protect this incredible species, its habitat, and our waterways, and open those proposals for public comment. The voices of the endless nonprofits, environmentalists, and ecologists advocating for our manatees must finally be heard. We are not the only ones inhabiting this planet. Let’s start acting like it. Respectfully, Caleb Merendino Co-Founder

Benjamin Swanson Co-Founder cc: Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Daniel Blackman, Regional Administrator, United States Environmental Protection Agency Eric Sutton, Executive Director, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission #ManateeMonday

Manatee Monday
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