Siesta Key Manatee

C Fi 9892

This is a painting of the beloved manatees in our waters. These gentle mammals, also known as sea cows, are herbivores and have heart shaped snouts. They pose no danger to swimmers. In fact, they are curious animals that enjoy human interaction and are quite happy to relate with and be around humans, just don't touch them.

While manatees are lovable, gentle slow moving creatures, they are protected by state and federal law. They are considered vulnerable meaning their population is decreasing. You can watch them all you want, but you can't touch them. You cannot feed them, molest them, harm them, touch them or pursue them. It potentially could be harmful to the manatee.

While humans remain one of their worst threats, the worsening of water quality from toxic runoff have increased algae blooms and kills the sea grass that manatees graze on. Runoffs such as fertilizers, sewage and septic leaks increase the algae blooms. The blooms soak up all the oxygen in the water and shat out the sunlike so the sea grass cannot grow.

More than 10 percent of Florida's estimated manatee population has died since the start of the year, already surpassing the total number of manatee deaths in 2020, according to state wildlife officials. The fact that manatees are dying from starvation signals there is something very wrong with the water quality.

Patrick Rose, an aquatic biologist and the executive director of the nonprofit Save the Manatee Club, described manatees as a “sentinel species telling us that the ecosystem is in a catastrophic state of decline.” He said manatees are like “gardeners of the aquatic ecosystem,” helping the sea grass become more productive.

They will lightly graze on the sea grass and move on, stimulating more growth, he said, thus enabling other species, such as rays and sea turtles, to feed on the grass.

To help protect the lagoon and other state waterways, the St. Johns River water district urges the public to use fertilizers wisely — only when lawns show need, and never just before rain — and to connect to a central sewer system where possible.

The Sarasota County Manatee Protection Plan was adopted in 2003 to reduce human-related threats to manatees and their habitat. Seven key locations were considered priority manatee habitat in Sarasota County - Upper Myakka River, including Salt Creek; Pansy Bayou, City Islands Grassflats; Lemon Day, including Forked Creek; Roberts Bay, particularly the waters inside Big Sarasota Pass; Buttonwood Harbor; and Hudson Bayou.

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Bridget Lyons

Bridget Lyons is a Florida Artist who focuses on colors and contrast in her paintings. That love of color has become a staple in her choices for street painting, although, she has pushed her range and begun to explore black and white images. Over the years, she has moved from flat, bright images to develop her passion for colors and just how far she can push the limits. Her style continues to evolve in street painting, by her mixed use of carefully selected reproductions and inspired original pieces. Aside from street painting, She also enjoys photography and painting in acrylics.