Manatees, Key Deer and Mountainous Star Coral take the spotlight in Part 6 of our continuing series. The list of imperiled species is a fluid instrument — species are added and removed periodically, as well as changing classifications, such as from Endangered to Threatened. In fact, our first imperiled species is a perfect example of changing classifications.
Florida Manatee (West Indian Manatee); Mammal; Trichechus manatus latirostris (Trichechus manatus): Between 1996 and 1997 the Florida manatee population plummeted from 2,639 manatees to just 1,706. Predictions of extinction looming, they were placed on the Federal Endangered Species list. With these protections in place, Florida’s manatee population rebounded by 2010 to a new record of 5, 067. In fact, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently stated that manatees are no longer in danger of extinction, so they propose Florida manatees be reclassified from Endangered to Threatened. They will also remain protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Key Deer; Mammal; Odocoileus virginianus clavium: Unfortunately, this white-tailed deer mini-me species will likely never be upgraded from Federally-designated Endangered. Once hunted mercilessly, population estimates were as low as 25 individuals. Since protections were put into place, the population grew and seems to be holding at somewhere between 700-800. However, insatiable development has destroyed most of their habitat, leaving them small fragments of suitable habitat with no migration routes, so further population growth seems unlikely.
Photo: “Orbicella faveolata (Montastraea faveolata), pólipos abiertos” by NOAA – http://flowergarden.noaa.gov/
Mountainous Star Coral; Coral; Montastraea cavernosa: NOAA classifies 25 corals as Threatened or Endangered; Mountainous Star Coral is 1 of 22 listed as Threatened. These corals all face a long list of threats, ranging from ocean warming and acidification to coastal development and agricultural practices. The Florida Reef is both the only living coastal barrier reef in the continental U.S. and the 3rd largest in the world. Why should we care? Coral reefs are home to as many as 9 Million species, 1/4 of all marine life!
Get to know our Imperiled Species — please check back often, as we’re spotlighting new species often. We still have a long way to go…