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Manatee Refugees

November 7, 2005

Science reporter Bob Hirshon talks about an emerging threat to the endangered manatee.


Manatees out in the cold. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Manatees need warm waters to survive even Florida’s winters, and for the past 50 years they’ve gotten used to basking in warm outflows from power plants. But environmental regulations and rising fuel costs may soon shut the plants down. That could kill hundreds of manatees, says David Laist of the Marine Mammal Commission in Bethesda, Maryland. To save them, conservationists will have to gradually wean the manatees from the outflows, perhaps using artifically heated refuges.

DAVID LAIST (Marine Mammal Commission):
They’ve been using these sites all of their life—that’s what they know and they don’t necessarily know that there’s warmer spots elsewhere in the state.

He says with human assistance the manatees should eventually find their way back to Florida’s natural hot springs and thermal basins. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.