Letters to the Editor

Florida manatees are still in danger

One night Jimmy Buffett gave a concert in Tallahassee to which Gov. Bob Graham took his teenage daughter Kendall. Buffett’s ribald lyrics, of course, were well known to everyone except, apparently, Bob, whose musical tastes ran more toward Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Gov. Graham, however, asked Buffett if he would lead a statewide campaign to preserve the endangered manatee — a freshwater mammal Jimmy featured in one of his maritime songs, “ . . . sometimes I see me as an old manatee, heading south as the water grows colder.”

Buffett agreed and, naturally, Graham called a couple of his supporters to help form the Save the Manatee Committee: Miami attorney Ron Book and Pat Rose — who wound up running the program — and me, David Pearson.

Knowing television stations had a required number of minutes to provide public service announcements, we prevailed on Buffett to record a series of 30-second TV spots. We got a video production company to produce several PSAs, which became a Pearson/Buffett enterprise. I wrote the scripts, and we used our family’s 17-foot Mako with my two daughters Kate and Maggie aboard. Son Chris was at the wheel, speeding down the Intracoastal. The campaign worked pretty well. Before long, the Save the Manatee Club had several chapters and hundreds of members statewide.

The endangered mammal’s numbers have grown over the years to the point that the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service is recommending that the animal be removed from the endangered-species category.

Of course, the marine industry is all for that.

My question is simple: Why not wait until the manatee is not endangered before removing it from the list? It’s a long, long way from being out of danger from the morons still speeding through Florida’s waterways.

David Pearson,

one-time adviser

to former Gov. Bob Graham, Miami