Celeshia Guy There are several serious threats that have combined to make manatees one of the most threatened marine mammals in the world. Once traditionally hunted by indigenous people, now humans have figured out other ways to harm them. Ship strikes are one of the most common causes of death or injury, because boaters often ignore the wake bans in manatee habitats. Manatees can hear approaching boats, but often move too slowly to get out of the way.
Galves says that while no-wake zones are clearly marked, enforcement is meager and people often don't slow down.
"A lot of it has to do with peoples' lack of understanding or appreciation for manatees," he said. "They have no respect for wake zones or no reason to comply. To me, it seems like a small, easy thing for them to comply and just slow down."
This coupled with pollution, loss of valuable coastal habitat like mangroves, and (still) the threat of poaching have been disastrous for the species in recent years.
Sadly, some of the hardest hit are also the youngest, Galves said.
"If a mother and her calf are feeding and a boat comes, the mother's first instinct is to run. They communicate using chirps at a low volume, and it's very difficult for them to get back together [after they've been separated]."