The Rope is No Longer A Snake: Manatees, Dugongs & Sea Cows

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I have always assumed that manatees, dugongs and sea cows are distinctive creatures but never quite acted upon affirming the same and determining the differences. At times, I have also clumsily referred to them inter-changeably.it was not until a couple days back that I decided I just had to know-

One of the   famous Vedanta [philosophy/ way of living ] analogy which depicts the doom of oblivion or rather the risk of ignorance is that of the mistaken belief that a fluttering rope in the dark is a snake. The Absence of light or the failure to switch on the light [ to seek knowledge] would then ease doubt One of the   famous Vedanta [ philosophy/ way of living ] analogy which depicts the doom of oblivion or rather the risk of ignorance is that of the mistaken belief that a fluttering rope in the dark is a snake. The Absence of light or the failure to switch on the light [ to seek knowledge] would then ease doubt, fear, and propel the further spread of falsehood.

It was not until I happened to be standing mere feet away from the graceful grass grazer last Saturday whilst getting my hands dirty clearing some invasive plant species to make room for native birds ] lease terns ] to nest. Kathy and I had along with Alison and Samantha from the Broward County visited Port Everglades, a port buzzing with a range of industrial, maritime as well as tourism activities. Amidst the gargantuan structures, through the valuable insight provided by whom I think befits the title of an environmental champion, Erik Neugaard, a Environmental Program Manager at Port Everglades We learnt of the various sustainability initiatives ranging from mangrove conservation areas, invasive species control measures [ both of flora and fauna], and wildlife and fish conservation. Notwithstanding the seemingly densely compacted area, there seemed to be pockets of hotspots where wildlife sought refuge and seemingly hoped to more than just survive. It was in this one such pocket, a man made cooling canal built specifically for the purpose of cooling industrial plants where the magnificent manatee was spotted. This canal along with many other similar ones across Broward county seem to invite wildlife. All is not glossy as this highly shipping and maritime region sees it’s fair share of boat/ wildlife encounters.

 

 

 

If this encounter wasn’t enough to go digging further, I don’t know what else would. So, what do manatees, dugongs and sea cows have in common? Besides enchanting mankind and fuelling the growth of folklore and legends, inspiring popular culture, and providing a bridge between reality and wonder, it is suggested that these enigmatic herbivorous marine mammals are related to the similarly if not more celebrated elephants. All 3 belong to the same scientific order as well.

Upon browsing the numerous online resources, I also learnt that the dugongs found in the region I hail from [ Asia Pacific, specifically Malaysia] and manatees have different tail ends. Whilst the former has a Y shaped finish, the latter possesses a paddle shaped tail. The sea cows have unfortunately faced extinction and the 2 remaining relatives are endangered and can be found in differing geographies. The two remaining cousins [ if I may call them so] also vary in size, life span, facial features and so forth. It so happens that the dugongs have a slower fecundity rate and is more threatened than manatees. What remains consistent is that these species are threatened due to loss of habitat ,and impacts of human activity amongst others.

This again begs the question- what does sustainable coastal and ocean development look like? How can we less invade and encroach into the what already seems to be a fading future for some vulnerable wildlife species? For now, this rope remains a snake to me-

 

Photographs courtesy of my fellow fellow, Kathy- thanks much-

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