Merlin. Photo © Save the Manatee Club
Having recently become the adoptive parent and “Guardian” of a beautiful Manatee called Merlin, I thought I would write a post about him, and about the Save the Manatee Club, who run the Manatee Adoption Program.
Merlin, named after the famous Sorcerer, was first identified in 1970, making him at least 41 years old at the time of writing. This is not unusual for a Manatee, as the creatures can live for up to 60 years. He returns each winter to the Blue Spring State Park, near Orange City, Florida, to warm himself in the tepid waters. He is of average size, being about ten feet long (about three meters).
Although Merlin is often seen around some of the other Manatees in the Adoption Program, such as Deep Dent, Lucille and Troy, he does like to spend time on his own, and is known to be a little shy around people. He often turns up later than the other Manatees, earning him the nickname “Tail-End Charlie” from one of the Rangers.
Like other Manatees, Merlin has received some horrific injuries from boats which navigate through their habitat. Merlin has received extensive damage to his back and tail as a result of various collisions throughout the years. He is, however, a survivor, and can still be found playing and snoozing in the Florida waters.
Save the Manatee Club:
The Save the Manatee Club was set up in 1981 by singer/songwriter, Jimmy Buffett, and former U.S. Senator Bob Graham, when he was governor of Florida. It is a not-for-profit organisation which seeks to “protect endangered manatees and their aquatic habitat for future generations” through various programs and interventions, ultimately resulting in the “delisting” of the manatee as an endangered species.
The difficulties that the Manatee populations face are manifold: loss of habitat, watercraft collisions, pollution, litter, flood control structures, and general harassment from the public and unscrupulous tour agencies. The Save the Manatee Club website states that “since record-keeping began in 1974, more than 41% of manatee deaths where cause of death was identified were human-related – and almost 34% were due to watercraft collisions (the largest known cause of manatee deaths)”.
The work of the Save the Manatee Club is focused in the four areas: public awareness and education; sponsoring research, rescue and rehabilitation efforts; advocating strong protections measures; taking legal action where appropriate. They also assist other areas with manatee populations, such as the wider Caribbean, South America and West Africa.
Another part of the great work of this organisation is the Adopt-A-Manatee program, where members of the public and organisations can choose a specific manatee to adopt. There are five levels of adoption – Associate, Friend, Sponsor, Guardian and Steward – each with its own sponsorship cost. Lists of adoptable manatees can be seen here.
Further information about what you can do to help these beautiful creatures can be found at the Save the Manatee Club website: www.savethemanatee.org. You can also look through its annual report and 2011 highlights.