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Marine Life & Conservation

Celebrate Manatee Awareness Month with Save the Manatee Club



This November, celebrate Manatee Awareness Month with Save the Manatee Club (SMC) by learning more about manatees and how to help protect them and their habitat. SMC will be sharing manatee activities, games, quizzes, and ways the public can help manatees throughout the month on social media and at beginning in November. Each week will have a different theme, from fun facts to taking action.

The month-long recognition of imperiled manatees was first declared in 1979 by Former Florida Governor Bob Graham, who co-founded Save the Manatee Club along with singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett. Florida began designating manatee protection zones in the late 1970s in order to conserve the warm-water areas that manatees need to survive the winter as well as encourage slower boating speeds in areas where manatees frequent. In November, manatees usually begin returning to Florida’s warm waters. They need the constant warmth from natural springs or power plant effluents once the water temperature begins dipping below 68° F (20° C). Manatees remain near these sites until about March. Despite their size, manatees have relatively little body fat and cannot survive with prolonged exposure to cold water temperatures.

Floridians and those who visit Florida during the winter can learn how to recognize sick, injured, or orphaned manatees so they can report them to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). “Boaters, especially, can be a tremendous help in reporting manatees in distress,” says Patrick Rose, Save the Manatee Club’s Aquatic Biologist and Executive Director. “Being aware of manatees’ presence on the water, and learning how to call when something is wrong, can help save a manatee’s life.”

Most adult manatees bear scars on their bodies from collisions with watercraft. When healed, the scars appear gray or white. But when fresh, they can look pink or red with deep cuts. That’s when a manatee should be reported. Manatees that are seen tilting to one side, unable to fully submerge underwater, or having trouble breathing should also be reported.

As a result of the severe losses of seagrass on the east coast of Florida, it is more important than ever to watch for manatees that appear malnourished, with visible ribs and a sunken area behind their head. A manatee calf by itself with no adults around may be an orphan and should be reported. Anyone who spends time near the water should view the resources at at least every November. Boaters can also request free materials such as boat decals displaying the FWC’s 24/7 wildlife alert hotline, 1-888-404-FWCC (3922).

Save the Manatee Club also offers educational resources to increase manatee awareness for manatee-lovers of any age, including important facts and FAQs, manatee videos and live webcams. Additionally, SMC can provide live virtual presentations about manatees for classrooms or other groups upon request. “Education is one of the primary objectives in achieving our mission of manatee protection,” says Rose. “Whether for boaters in Florida or students all around the country, learning about and appreciating manatees plays an important role in helping to protect them and their essential habitat.”

For more information visit the Save the Manatee Club website by clicking here.

Marine Life & Conservation

UK Shark Fin ban moves closer to becoming law



Bite-Back Shark & Marine Conservation’s relentless campaigns to make Britain shark fin-free reached a new milestone last week when a private member’s bill to ban the import and export of shark fins was voted through parliament with unanimous cross-party support.

The bill is now scheduled for three readings in the House of Lords and, if successful, it will then go to King Charles for Royal Ascent and become law.

Campaign director for Bite-Back, Graham Buckingham, said:

“Our goal of ending Britain’s ties with the global shark fin trade is within our reach. This country has a dark history of exporting around 20 tonnes of shark fins every year and it remains legal to bring up to 20kg of dried shark fins through Customs without needing to declare it. This bill could represent a significant blow to the multi-million-pound shark fin industry. It’s now down to the House of Lords to smooth its path to the palace.”

Since July 2022 the charity has been consulting the Labour MP Christina Rees who put forward the private member’s bill after the government failed to bring its Animal Welfare Bill, that promised to ban the import and export of shark fins, into law last year.

To help improve support for the bill, Bite-Back also created a briefing document on the issues for all MPs to reference. During the bill’s final reading in the House of Commons MPs from different parties wholeheartedly endorsed the ban on the import and export of shark fins.

In her closing statement Christina Rees MP said that she hoped this bill would ‘drive up the standards of global shark conservation’.

Bite-Back will now turn its attention to educating and inspiring members of the House of Lords to vote in favour of a ban.

Follow the bill’s progress at and learn how you can get involved in supporting shark conservation initiatives in the UK.

Header image: Finned sharks underwater- Copyright – Scubazoo.

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Marine Life & Conservation

Shark Trust calls for global shark citizen scientists



Never let a shark sighting go to waste!

The Shark Trust has launched a new smartphone app that makes it simple for everyone to get involved in shark science and conservation. The new app brings together five citizen science projects into one place, allowing users to report: shark sightings, eggcase finds, Basking Shark observations, angling catches, and incidents of shark entanglement with marine litter.

Through these projects, anyone with an interest in sharks, skates and rays can contribute to important research and have a lot of fun along the way. The findings can be submitted from anywhere in the world and will help scientists by providing a range of vital data from some of the 1200+ species of sharks, skates and rays that swim in our ocean.

As users submit their findings across the five citizen science projects, they will build a logbook of their research contributions. These are saved in their profile and shared with the wider community, so users can see what other people have recently been discovering.

Alongside this important citizen science aspect, there are also 50 collectible shark cards to unlock: 30 bronze cards, 15 silver cards, and five gold cards. Submitting to any of the projects unlocks a card at random, so you never know what you’re going to find!

Shark Trust App for Great Eggcase Hunt: Image by James Harris

The Shark Trust’s flagship citizen science project, the Great Eggcase Hunt, which encourages the public to find the empty eggcases (or mermaid’s purses) of sharks and skate on the beach or submit those seen developing in situ, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Senior Conservation Officer Cat Gordon says “We’re really excited to be celebrating the Great Eggcase Hunt’s 20th anniversary this year! As part of the celebrations, we’re releasing this brand-new citizen science app, hosting a public evening event, and planning a special edition of the Trust’s membership magazine Shark Focus. The project has grown substantially since 2003, when we received just 128 records in the first year, to having a staggering 50,212 individual eggcases recorded in 2022 alone! In total, we’ve received over 370,000 eggcases since the project began, and we hope the app inspires even more people to get out and about in search of mermaid’s purses!

The Great Eggcase Hunt element of the app features eggcases from species which can be found in the Northeast Atlantic, as well as those in Australia (working in partnership with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation). In time we will add identification materials from more regions, but until then, records can still be submitted from outside these areas. This app replaces the previous Great Eggcase Hunt app which was launched in 2014 – so if you previously used that then please delete it and download the new version!

If you are interested in sharks, skates and rays and want to help contribute towards research and conservation, the Shark Trust citizen science app is for you. Everyone from the occasional beachgoer to seasoned divers and anglers can get involved.

Paul Cox, Shark Trust CEO, says “For a while we’ve wanted to make it easier and more fun for people to identify and record their sightings. Thanks to a generous donation from Animal Friends Pet Insurance, we’ve been able to create this great tool with local gamification specialists, Kazow Games. We’re really excited to get this app out into the world and start to see more recorders getting involved with our projects.”

Search for ‘Shark Trust’ in the relevant app store, download the app today, and start recording your findings. We are already working on some exciting updates and are still welcoming feedback, so if you have opportunity to try it out, please let us know what you think!

Let’s build a global community of citizen scientists who can help protect these incredible animals together!

Find out more on the Shark Trust website.

Header image: James Harris

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