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Environment

As recreational boaters prepare to head to Florida’s waterways for the last holiday weekend blast of the summer, Save the Manatee Club sends out a reminder to exercise safe boating practices and to remain watchful for endangered manatees and other wildlife.

Manatees are slow-moving, and because they are mammals, they need to surface to breathe air.  They also prefer shallow waters where they feed on submerged seagrasses. These factors combine to make manatees vulnerable to boat hits, and many are injured or killed by the crushing impact of the hull and slashing blades of the propellers.

Boaters can be active participants in manatee protection by holding aloft Save the Manatee Club’s public awareness banner whenever a manatee is sighted in areas where boats are motoring close by.  The bright yellow, 1 ½ by 2 foot, waterproof banner states, “Please Slow: Manatees Below.”  They are provided free to the boating public in Florida from the Club.

Shark populations over the last 50 years have decreased dramatically. From habitat degradation to overfishing and finning, human activities have affected their populations and made certain species all but disappear.

A recent article in Current Issues in Tourism by Austin J. Gallagher and Dr. Neil Hammerschlag of the R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program at the University of Miami study the impact of these apex predators on coastal economies and the importance of including conservation efforts in long term management plans.

On Tuesday, 5 July, the government of The Bahamas will announce new protections for sharks in the country's waters, approximately 630,000 square kilometers (243,244 square miles). This declaration is the result of a partnership between the Pew Environment Group and The Bahamas National Trust, which began just as a major Bahamian seafood company announced its intention in September 2010 to catch sharks and export their fins.

Vice Chairwoman Audrey M. Edmonson (left) joined José González (center), assistant director of Miami-Dade County Environmental Resources Management Department (DERM), and Susanne M. Torriente, Director, Miami-Dade County Office of Sustainability, on a boat tour of key points around District 3 including Port of Miami improvements, the working waterfront and Miami and Little Rivers, bay habitat restoration projects and artificial reefs. Vice Chairwoman Edmonson also was joined by Dr. Stephen Blair, Chief, Restorations and Enhancement Section and Dr. Susan Markley, Water Resources Coordinator and Chief, Environmental Education Communication Office (EECO) who provided updates on the County's efforts to preserve and enhance our waterfront.

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