Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Florida Manatee Is Found With ‘Trump’ Written on Its Back

Politics
Florida Manatee Is Found With ‘Trump’ Written on Its Back
A manatee is seen in Three Sisters Springs on Crystal River in Citrus County, Florida. Keith Ramos / USFWS

A manatee found in a Florida river on Sunday had the word "Trump" written in algae on its back.


The incident, first reported by the Citrus County Chronicle on Monday, prompted a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) investigation and outrage from conservationists and animal lovers. The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) is even offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to a conviction.

"Manatees aren't billboards, and people shouldn't be messing with these sensitive and imperiled animals for any reason," CBD Florida Director Jaclyn Lopez said in a statement emailed to EcoWatch. "However this political graffiti was put on this manatee, it's a crime to interfere with these creatures, which are protected under multiple federal laws."

The Florida manatee is a subspecies of the West Indian manatee, which was classified as an endangered species in 1973, according to The Washington Post, although their status has since been lowered to threatened. Currently, manatees are protected federally under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and on the state level under the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978, The New York Times reported. Harassing a manatee carries a federal penalty of up to $50,000 and a year in jail, and a state penalty of up to $500 and 60 days in jail.

The affected manatee was first discovered in the Homosassa River in Citrus County by Hailey Warrington, a family boat charter operator, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported. Warrington said she saw the manatee while on a boat tour and took photos and a video to report the incident.

"This is just disturbing. One hundred percent disturbing," Warrington told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. "It's something we don't see very often. When we do see it, it hurts our heart."

The USFWS said that the letters appear to have been etched in algae and that the animal was not seriously harmed. Warrington claimed that while the etching reached the skin, it did not appear to leave a wound. The animal seemed healthy, but stressed.

Elizabeth Fleming, senior Florida representative for the Defenders of Wildlife, told The Washington Post that the perpetrator either had to restrain the manatee to write the message, or the manatee was so used to humans that it allowed the action.

There are more than 6,300 West Indian manatees living in Florida, according to the USFWS. While that number has increased significantly in the last 25 years, the animals still face threats from habitat loss and boat collisions. About 100 manatees die every year from boat strikes, according to The Washington Post, accounting for 20 percent of total manatee deaths.

For Elizabeth Neville, Defenders of Wildlife senior Gulf Coast representative, the harassment of this particular manatee is a striking example of politics impacting wildlife.

"The content of this manatee's mutilation, however, highlights a broader and darker truth: that wildlife, despite having no ability to vote or otherwise participate in our political systems, exist and suffer profoundly at the mercy of human politics," she said in a statement.

"Based on the choice of the word carved in the manatee's flesh, one can only assume that this act of mutilation was politically motivated. But, this is far from the only scar borne by manatees due to politicians' destructive choices. Other scars include policies that favor unsustainable development and polluting industries, hamper communities' abilities to address plastic trash in our waters and impede progress on fighting climate change."

Anyone with information about the incident should contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 888-404-3922, the Citrus County Chronicle shared.

Algal blooms from fertilizer pollution are among the causes behind global coastal darkening. Gooddenka / Getty Images

Coastal waters around the world are growing darker from pollution and runoff. This has the potential to create huge problems for the ocean and its marine life.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A U.S. Postal Service truck drives down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC on April 23, 2020. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP via Getty Images

The Postal Service is updating its massive fleet of mail carrying vehicles, heralding a significant step toward reducing carbon pollution from its massive fleet while also helping to protect its workforce from climate impacts.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Congresswoman Deb Haaland, seen here on December 19, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware, is poised to become the next U.S. Secretary of Interior pending Senate confirmation hearings. Alex Edelman / AFP / Getty Images

After a second day of Senate hearings, Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM) is poised to become the first Native to serve as Secretary of the Interior (or any such high-ranking cabinet position.)

Read More Show Less
Yves Adams / Instagram

A rare yellow penguin has been photographed for what is believed to be the first time.

Read More Show Less
The Crystal building in London, England is the first building in the world to be awarded an outstanding BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method) rating and a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum rating. Alphotographic / Getty Images

By Stuart Braun

We spend 90% of our time in the buildings where we live and work, shop and conduct business, in the structures that keep us warm in winter and cool in summer.

But immense energy is required to source and manufacture building materials, to power construction sites, to maintain and renew the built environment. In 2019, building operations and construction activities together accounted for 38% of global energy-related CO2 emissions, the highest level ever recorded.

Read More Show Less