Asked about the accusations levied at the DEP, spokesman Patrick Gillespie said in a statement: "Florida has the most comprehensive water quality standards in the nation, and the Department continues to prioritize getting the water right, in terms of water quality and quantity... Reaching an agreement on Florida's numeric nutrient criteria with the U.S. EPA this year, coupled with new state rules and legislation passed by the Florida Legislature, will result in cleaner, safer water for all Floridians."

Rose of the Save the Manatee Club, however, isn't convinced. The aquatic biologist has worked with manatees for 40 years. In 1981, Gov. Bob Graham tapped him to serve as an original committee member and scientific adviser for the Save the Manatee Club. In the 1990s, he acted as the U.S.'s first federal manatee coordinator. He spent 18 years in Tallahassee strengthening water laws and manatee habitats.

He's learned that protecting manatees has far-reaching effects beyond the creature itself. Even if people know nothing about aquifers, algal blooms, or the environment, they love the manatee. These dopey-looking mammals become rallying cries.

More than 500 of Florida's 5,000 manatees have died this year.
Chris Muenzer / Wikimedia Commons
More than 500 of Florida's 5,000 manatees have died this year.

So, Rose asks, how do you save the manatees? Simple. Make stricter water laws.

In the past month, Scott's administration has shown a slight shift. In the 2013-14 budget, set in May, Scott boosted the DEP's budget by $271 million to $1.2 billion. Later that month, the DEP discovered $10 million to put toward spring restoration. The state also has begun providing extra funding to the Everglades, river cleanup, and the land-conservation program Florida Forever. They are incremental changes, environment advocates say, adding that Scott has done little to regulate the industries generating the pollution.

In any case, it will take years for seagrass to return to places where it vanished from the lagoon.

The mysterious manatee deaths slowed in May, but a toxic brown algal bloom reappeared soon thereafter in the northern part of the lagoon. Brown tide, never reported in Florida until last year, might become a permanent fixture of the lagoon. "You put these systems past the tipping point, and it doesn't just go slow," Rose says. "It goes very rapidly."

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My Voice Nation Help

Yes, let's shut down industrial society so that a couple of manatees have food. 

All property should be privately owned.  If you want to own a useless, mosquito-infested swamp and do nothing with it except breed insects, go for it.  Leave the rest us alone to actually carve out a livable space with our property.

frankd4 topcommenter


maybe you were absent on the day the geo-eco-pyramid food chain was presented but EVERYTHING has a purpose and ALL living things are connected = sometimes delicately so

i know = screw the MANATEE because they don't vote = i get that

but what of the UNintended consequences ? how livable will your property be if ecological arrmegeddon results in dirty water, unbreathable air and toxic foods ?

compare HAITI and DOMINICAN REPUBLIC and you can see the drastic differences on a single island (go look on google earth and see a mud hole vs a lush tropical paradise)

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