Letters to the Editor

There’s no evidence that climate change threatens manatees | Letter to the editor

I’m not a scientist. I believe some things are happening with our climate. Is it cyclical? Who knows? I write to take exception to the premise in the front page story of your Oct. 12 edition that asserted that manatees are being pushed toward extinction due to “climate-fueled superstorms.” No scientific evidence was cited. The picture showed manatees being rescued from a golf course pond after riding a tidal surge during Hurricane Hermine in 2016.

The article said that “tidal gauges in Key West and Virginia Key show that South Florida has seen about seven inches of sea-level rise since the 1970’s.” Arithmetic tells me, therefore, that a five-foot tidal surge then would be a five foot seven inch surge today. Worse but not catastrophic.

In 2016 there were 520 manatee deaths in Florida. Seven were found in ponds after the hurricane and it appears that most if not all were rescued. The main causes for manatee deaths are loss of habitat, boat strikes and hypothermia. Any loss is sad but the premise of the report cited in the article borders on hysteria and reminds me of the claims going back decades that the earth has less than 12 years left.

The article cited Key deer as potential victims of these superstorms indicating that the only place they live is in the Lower Keys. Well, some communities in low-lying barrier islands are in the process of relocating due to rising sea levels. Perhaps the same consideration should be given to part of the Key Deer population. The National Science Foundation has begun a study on just this - referred to as “managed relocation.” And I suspect there are areas in Florida not prone to tidal surges to which Key Deer would be well suited.

Roger Sorochty