By JENNIFER KAY
As they do whenever they visit Florida, Greg Groff and his young daughter stopped by the manatee pool at Miami Seaquarium, where the speed bump-shaped marine mammals placidly swim in circles.
They noted the pink scars and disfigured tail on one manatee, damage from a boat propeller that left it unable to survive in the wild.
Florida's manatees need even more stringent protections than their listing on the federal endangered species list, Groff said, adding that boaters should go elsewhere if they don't like speed limits in waters where manatees swim.
"There's plenty of places they can go faster," the Chicago man said. "They can go out in the middle of the ocean if they want to go much, much, much quicker, and you won't have to worry about them running the manatees over."
Groff's comments are representative of the environmentalist and general public side of an ongoing fight with a group of boaters, businesses and conservatives over whether the manatee should retain its 1967 federal listing as an endangered species, the most protective classification.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reviewing whether the manatee should be reclassified as a "threatened" species, which would allow some flexibility for federal officials as the species recovers while maintaining most of the protections afforded to animals listed as endangered. ....more