Endangered Manatee



New York Times April 11, 1996

The manatee population has suffered a devastating blow so far this year.
About 221 manatees have been found dead already. Out of those 221, 128 have no
obvious cause of death. Marine biologists have been unable to find the cause of
these deaths. They suspect that the Red Tide off of the coast of southwest
Florida has some connection with these mysterious deaths. A red tide is a
bloom of flagellates which are deadly to marine life, but cause no harm to the
human population. Another possible cause is a virus that is unknown to
scientists. Many people believe that this problem will eventually stop an the
manatee population will flourish, but others are rather pessimistic.

Ecological Problem: The manatee population is quickly dying off and
unless they make an astonishing comeback, they will soon be extinct.

Ecological Solution: A possible solution to this problem is to move the
manatees from their current habitat into a similar habitat, away from the
"source" of the problem. If the manatees survive there, that tells scientists
that the problem was in their habitat. If the still die at their current rate,
that would tell the scientists that the manatees have a deadly unknown virus.
If it is a virus, the scientists can devise some sort of medicine to defeat this
virus.