Manatee calf

Conservation & Research

Endangered Species

  • All four species of sirenians are endangered or threatened.
  • The Florida manatee is one of the most endangered marine mammals in the United States

Legal Protection

  • All species of sirenians are protected to some extent by national or local acts in every country they inhabit.
  • Federal and state laws have been passed that protect Florida manatees.
    • Federal laws prohibit hunting, capturing, killing, or harassing these animals. These laws include the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Penalties for breaking these federal laws could include a year in prison and a fine up to $20,000.
    • The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978 is state legislation that allows the establishment of manatee sanctuaries in Florida.
  • West African manatees are protected under Class A of the African Convention of Nature and Natural Resources, signed by 38 African countries.
  • Amazonian manatee hunting has been prohibited since 1973.
  • The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international treaty developed in 1973 to regulate trade of wildlife items. All species of sirenians are protected by this treaty.

Marine Zoological Parks

  • Marine zoological parks such as SeaWorld Florida and SeaWorld California help conserve manatees. SeaWorld is authorized to rescue and rehabilitate ill, injured, or orphaned manatees.
  • The first priority of the manatee rescue and rehabilitation program is to return healthy manatees to their natural habitat. SeaWorld Florida has successfully rescued and released more than 80 manatees as of December 2000. SeaWorld Florida rescued 13 manatees in 2000 and released six.
  • In the controlled environment of a marine zoological park, scientists can study aspects of manatee biology that are difficult or impossible to study in the wild.
    • Having manatees at marine zoological parks provide the opportunity for the public to learn about these rare animals.