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Manatee Awareness Month: Protecting Florida’s Sea Cows | BeCause Tees

Manatee Awareness Month: Protecting Florida’s Sea Cows

Manatee Awareness Month takes place every November. Often referred to as 'sea cows', manatees are aquatic mammals that play a vital role in maintaining the balance of our aquatic ecosystems. In this blog post, we'll explore why they're important, and what we can do to help these gentle giants thrive.

Florida Manatee 

What is Manatee Awareness Month?

Manatee Awareness Month aims to raise awareness about these gentle giants and the need to protect their habitats.

Globally, there are 3 species of manatees:

  • West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus)
  • Amazonian manatee (Trichechus inunguis)
  • West African manatee (Trichechus senegalensis)

There are 2 subspecies of West Indian manatees: 
  • Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus)
  • Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) 

In 1967, manatees were listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Conservation Act. However, in May 2017, the manatee was downgraded from endangered to threatened due to conservation efforts and collaborations between various states and organizations, which resulted in manatee population increases. 

The removal of 'endangered' status has been controversial and there have been many calls for manatees to once again be listed as endangered. 

Manatees in Florida

Why Are Manatees Important?

Manatee Awareness Month is the perfect time to learn why manatees are important to their ecosystem. Florida manatees are a keystone species because they play a vital role in maintaining the health of aquatic habitats.

Manatees graze on aquatic vegetation, eating over 60 species of underwater plants. Their grazing helps to control the growth of seagrass beds, which prevents these underwater meadows from becoming overgrown and allows sunlight to penetrate the water, enabling other marine life to thrive.

The large amount of vegetation they consume in turn creates a large amount of excrement that fertilizes their environment.

Manatees are also important indicators of underwater habitat health, helping to signal whether the area they inhabit is healthy and thriving.

Threats Facing Florida's Manatees

Despite their importance, manatees face numerous threats that put their survival at risk. The primary threats to manatees include:

Boat Strikes

Manatees are often injured or killed by boats, as their slow-moving nature and the shallow waters they inhabit make them vulnerable to collisions.


Manatees can get entangled in fishing gear and marine debris, leading to injuries or death.

Habitat Loss

Coastal development and habitat degradation threaten manatee habitats and nesting areas.

Water Pollution

Pollution from runoff and other sources can lead to a decline in the quality of underwater vegetation and cause toxic algae to bloom.

Climate Change

Rising sea temperatures and sea level changes can affect the distribution of the underwater plants they rely on to survive.

Florida manatee

    How to Help Manatees

    Manatee Awareness Month is an excellent opportunity for individuals and communities to get involved and make a positive impact. Here are some ways you can contribute to manatee protection:

    Follow Guidelines at Manatee Habitats

    If you're boating in manatee habitats, adhere to slow speed zones and remain vigilant to avoid collisions. Follow all guidelines on signs in manatee areas, including avoiding touching, chasing, or feeding manatees.

    Report Injured Manatees

    If you spot a sick or injured manatee, you should report it to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) .

    Support Conservation Organizations

    Contribute to organizations like Save the Manatee, which work to protect and conserve manatees and their habitats.


    Participate in volunteer programs that focus on manatee conservation, such as manatee rescue and rehabilitation efforts.

    Help to Raise Awareness

    Spread awareness about manatees and their importance to your friends, family, and the wider community. Our manatee apparel can be a great talking point to get a conversation started!

    Reduce Pollution

    Implement eco-friendly practices in your daily life to reduce pollution, such as minimizing plastic waste and using environmentally friendly products.


      Manatee Awareness Month serves as a crucial reminder of the need to protect these gentle giants. Manatees play a critical role in maintaining the health of our aquatic ecosystems, and we must ensure their survival. This Manatee Awareness Month, show your love for these incredible creatures with a hand-drawn mana-tee from our Manatee Collection

      Manatee shirt

      Photo: @honeywildbees

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