Thank you for Sunday’s editorial, Bad year for manatees, dolphins, on the latest death statistics. I did my 2003 thesis on manatee and boater issues, including boater observations in a manatee zone and a phone survey of these boaters. In terms of boater opinion, some important data gleaned included that more than 54 percent of those surveyed thought that speed zones should be made less confusing by having fewer types of zones, even if the number of slower zones increased. About 70 percent of those surveyed thought that manatee-protection rules were just about right or should be made stricter. More than 49 percent said that manatees should continue to be listed as endangered (26 percent did not have enough information to decide).
The editorial brings home the point that with unpredictable toxins and the current death rate — almost 20 percent of the entire manatee population in 2013 — it is clear that these animals are just clinging to existence and must be kept on the endangered-species list. Another interesting statistic from my survey was that more than 88 percent surveyed thought strongly or mostly agreed that manatees have a right to exist and that people should not be allowed to cause their extinction.
Scientists, boaters and the public must do all we can to protect these gentle giants and other animals falling victim to Red Tide and other, as yet, unknown poisons.
Judith Futerfas, South Miami