Manatees are frequently the unintentional victims of misinformation. This often occurs as a result of basic misunderstanding of scientific facts on manatees or skewed opinions based on unscientific observations (and perhaps wishful thinking). Many of the arguments persist as "myths" in some circles.
The following addresses some of the common myths in the hope that correct information will aid in understanding why current and proposed restrictions on boating are considered important to save the species.
MYTH #1: The manatee population is increasing.
MYTH #2: Synoptic aerial surveys conducted in recent years showed an increase in the manatee population and therefore manatees should be downlisted from endangered to threatened status or delisted altogether.
MYTH #3: More manatees have been counted, so it is ok for more manatees to die each year without increasing the risk of extinction.
MYTH #4: The manatee population has grown since the 1950s and 1960s.
MYTH #5: Boats only cause 25% of manatee deaths. This is insignificant considering most manatees are killed from other causes, such as cold weather. The state of Florida needs to focus on preventing the other 75% of manatee deaths.
MYTH #6: There isn’t enough habitat to support more manatees.
MYTH #7: If the government adopts additional manatee sanctuaries and refuges, shoreline property owners will not be able to have boat access to their land.
MYTH #8: Protecting manatees is a burden to the taxpayer who must pay for present and future protection measures.
MYTH #9: Manatees are not a Florida indigenous species. They were imported into the state in the early part of the 20th century.
MYTH #10: Florida’s economy will be ruined if additional manatee protection measures are adopted and property values will decrease.
MYTH #11: The boating industry and boating public did not have any input into the proposed additional protection measures.
MYTH #12: Entire waterbodies will be closed to boaters if additional sanctuaries and refuges are adopted. These waterbodies were randomly chosen and will put vast expanses of Florida’s waterways off-limits to boaters.
MYTH #13: Fewer boats will be purchased and the marine industries will suffer huge economic losses if additional manatee protection measures are adopted.
MYTH #14: Power plants are bad for manatees as they have caused manatees to expand their winter range northward. This has resulted in more manatees using Brevard County waterways, for instance, and now boaters must suffer further boating restrictions.
MYTH #15: Boaters don’t want additional protections for manatees.