MANA­TEE

Scuba Diver Australasia + Ocean Planet - - Inspirational Images Of 25 Ocean Species Under Thr - Text by Ellen Cuy­laerts

ASIA DIVE EXPO

(ADEX 2015, 2019 SPEAKER)

Pho­tos by Ellen Cuy­laerts & Stephen Frink

ASIA DIVE EXPO

(ADEX 2017, 2019 SPEAKER)

Ev­ery au­tumn, the West In­dian man­a­tees liv­ing at the Gulf Coast and the Florida coast find shel­ter in the Florid­ian springs (20–21 de­grees Cel­sius) when the water tem­per­a­tures drop. Large plant-eat­ing ma­rine mam­mals, man­a­tees help en­sure veg­e­ta­tive bal­ance in ecosys­tems and their health serves as an in­di­ca­tor of over­all ma­rine and eco­log­i­cal well-be­ing. The World Wildlife Fund is work­ing to seek le­gal pro­tec­tion for these an­i­mals us­ing pro­tected area frame­works. Man­a­tees are sus­cep­ti­ble to cold, as it af­fects their di­ges­tive sys­tem and they can die from cold shock. Their biggest threats are boat pro­pel­lers or col­li­sions, cold, red tides, habi­tat loss (i.e., loss of springs), and loss of food (i.e., sea­grass beds) due to pol­lu­tants.

These im­ages were taken at Crys­tal River, Florida on a very cold day. While the adults were very slow, pre­serv­ing en­ergy by not swim­ming too far for food, the calves, who were still be­ing fed by their moth­ers, were play­ful and cu­ri­ous, mak­ing for great photo op­por­tu­ni­ties.

ABOVE: West in­dian man­a­tees were once listed as En­dan­gered and num­bered in the hun­dreds, but con­ser­va­tion ef­forts have lifted the sta­tus to Vul­ner­a­ble by: Ellen Cuy­laertsWHENJan­uary 2015WHEREGulf Coast and Florida coast, USAHOW Ni­con D800, 16mm lens (f/13, 1/160s, ISO 400)

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