Florida Manatees – federal crime to harass manatees

What Orlando is talking about

And not even just Orlando… the whole world is talking about the case of the manatee with the word “Trump” scrawled on its side.

Here’s what we’ve learned:

  • The sighting in Florida this week of a manatee with letters spelling out “Trump” on its back has not only sparked a media frenzy but also prompted an investigation and a reward for proper conviction.
  • The story originally broke in the Citrus County Chronicle on Monday.
  • According to the Washington Post, Hailey Warrington was the first person to discover the manatee while out operating a manatee boat tour in the Homosassa River. That’s when she noticed the sleeping manatee with the president’s name on its body. She took photos and videos of the sea cow and sent them to local law enforcement.
  • Since then, the Center for Biological Diversity posted a $5,000 reward for information leading to a conviction “for the cruel and illegal mutilation” of a threatened manatee, initially stating that the word had been “carved” into the manatee’s back and would appear to have caused significant scarring.
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission quickly followed suit and opened an investigation. They have since found that the manatee does not appear to be seriously injured “as it seems the word was written in algae on the animal’s back.”
  • Patrick Rose, executive director of the Save the Manatee Club, reviewed the photos and said, “You can scratch that away with your fingernails” and “That can happen without cutting into the manatee’s hide, which is pretty tough.” BUT STILL.

Regardless of whether or not the manatee was maimed, it’s still a state and federal crime to harass manatees and officials are continuing to investigate the incident. Anyone with information is encouraged to call a hotline at 1-844-397-8477 or email FWS_TIPS@FWS.GOV.

It’s worth noting that according to state reports, 637 manatees were found dead in Florida last year. And that’s 59 more manatees than the 5-year average, with boaters being among the biggest threats to our beloved sea cows. There are currently at least 7,520 manatees alive here today.

Photo Credit: Albert kok