1996 32¢ Florida Manatee
Issue Date: October 2, 1996
City: San Diego, CA
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
What the manatee lacks in looks it makes up for in its endearing personality. An extremely gentle animal, this huge tropical creature doesn’t exhibit a single aggressive behavior. In fact, it has no known natural enemies, which may explain how the manatee has managed to survive for the last 50 million years. Today, it is the only herbivorous aquatic mammal still alive – consuming up to 65 pounds of aquatic plants a day!
Only recently has the manatee population become seriously threatened. Pollution and waterfront development have contributed to habitat destruction, but the biggest threat comes from motorboats. Of the 1200 manatees which inhabit Florida’s coastal waters, about 50 die each year from boat collisions.
Despite tough skin and a thick layer of blubber, manatees are very susceptible to cold, making it necessary for them to stay close to the coast where the water temperature remains above 68°F. Here they spend much of their time resting on the surface of the water where they risk being fatally injured by motorboats. Although laws limiting the speed and number of boats in the manatees’ primary habitat have been passed, they are difficult to enforce, especially in Florida where water sports are viewed as essential to the local economy.