Climate Change and Manatees by Defenders of Wildlife

Even though manatees, or "sea cows," seem robust, they are actually quite fragile. Prone to pneumonia if waters get too cold, many also die each year after being struck by motor boats. Global warming raises the odds against these already endangered creatures by increasing the likelihood of larger and more frequent hurricanes.

Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey in Florida say that, in years with intense hurricanes and other major storms in the northern Gulf of Mexico, fewer manatees seem to survive. The scientists are currently analyzing data from the catastrophic years of 2004 and 2005, including infamous Hurricane Katrina, and they note that "future impacts to the population by a single catastrophic hurricane, or series of smaller hurricanes, could increase the probability of extinction."

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