Helping to save endangered manatees has become a very popular gift alternative at Easter and other special occasions throughout the year. Cindi Grigsby from Palmetto, Florida, decided to adopt a manatee for her young grandson Grady last Easter after seeing an ad in a magazine. "When I discovered that you can adopt a manatee from Save the Manatee Club, I thought I would do this for Grady in place of the traditional candy and toys," said Cindi. "Since Grady and his parents are very environmentally concerned, I felt they would really appreciate this."
Cindi chose "Ariel" for Grady from the Club's Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park adoption program. Ariel is a gentle, sociable manatee who likes to make her presence known by holding her head up high above the water and wiggling her top lip in what appears to be a smile. There are 31 manatees to choose from in the Club's three Florida adoption programs at Blue Spring State Park near Orange City, Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in Homosassa, and in the Tampa Bay area.
An adoption costs $25 and it includes an adoption certificate, manatee photo, biography, membership handbook, a subscription to the Club's quarterly newsletter, The Manatee Zone, and the bi-monthly e-newsletter, Paddle Tales. Or for $35, each new member who joins the Adopt-A-Manateeprogram online will also receive a cuddly plush manatee.
"Even though Grady and his parents live in New England, far from Florida where the manatees make their home, I feel that all children as well as adults, no matter where they live, should be made aware of the perils of the manatee," explained Cindi.
Manatees are listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. A little more than 3,000 of them live in Florida's waterways. The year 2006 is on record as being the deadliest one ever documented for manatees, with 416 deaths. The leading identified cause of manatee deaths in 2006 was watercraft related. Approximately 86 manatees were killed by boat collisions - making it the second highest year on record. Over the last 10 years, at least 763 manatees are known to have been killed by boats, and 3,113 manatees have died from all causes.
Save the Manatee Club, started in 1981 by singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett and former Florida governor Bob Graham, is a national, nonprofit advocacy group, with a mission to protect manatees for future generations. Funds from the Club's adoption programs go toward numerous education and conservation efforts.
"I am very glad there is a Save the Manatee Club," said Cindi. "When my other two grandsons get old enough to understand, I will adopt manatees for them, too."
For more information about manatees, or the adoption program, contact Save the Manatee Club at 500 N. Maitland Ave., Maitland, FL 32751, call 1-800-432-JOIN (5646), or visit their web site at www.savethemanatee.org. Also, sign up for the Club's free E-Newsletter and check out the "Cool Manatee Stuff" section on the website, where you can get free manatee desktop wallpaper for your computer, take a quiz, or play a manatee maze game. It's a fun, interactive way to learn about manatees.