The Manatee Scientists: Saving Vulnerable Species
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The Manatee Scientists: Saving Vulnerable Species

by Peter Lourie
     
 

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In The Manatee Scientists, John Reynolds does an aerial count of manatees from the Florida sky; Lucy Keith spends a weekend rescuing manatees trapped in a dam in Senegal; and Fernando Rosas takes the author on an Amazonian boat trip, looking for a young manatee he released back into the wild, with emotional results. These scientists are working hard to save

Overview

In The Manatee Scientists, John Reynolds does an aerial count of manatees from the Florida sky; Lucy Keith spends a weekend rescuing manatees trapped in a dam in Senegal; and Fernando Rosas takes the author on an Amazonian boat trip, looking for a young manatee he released back into the wild, with emotional results. These scientists are working hard to save manatees: docile, large sea mammals who are eaten in some parts of the world, feared in others, and adored in still others. But factors such as human encroachment, disease, environmental hazards, and being hunted are causing their numbers to decline: they are an endangered species, in need of help.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It lives up to the standards set by others in this stellar series."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"This is a living, breathing window into the watery world of manatee studies, with eager scientists pursuing the preservation of stressed sirenian populations with determination and grit."—School Library Journal

School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Lourie's readable text follows the efforts of research scientists in Brazil, West Africa, and Florida as they attempt to determine the habits, habitats, and behaviors of three large sirenians, two of whom live in very remote and often primitive areas. The fieldwork on West African and Amazonian manatees is complicated by the very murky water in which they live (Floridian manatees get pellucid aquamarine waters but more propeller slashes) and is further complicated by the fact they are hunted for food to supplement inadequate diets in isolated areas. The African studies are compounded by a variety of national political issues and some social unrest. Lourie's lucid reportage is accompanied by clear color photos of the scientists at work in drowned rain forests, crystalline springs, muddy rivers blocked by dams, in the lab, and from the air. Quotes are imbedded as well, with Lucy Keith remarking patiently, "You have to really like challenges to do research in Africa," and Fernando Rosas in Brazil explaining why local people love manatee meat. "They eat fish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so any change in this diet is welcome." This is a living, breathing window into the watery world of manatee studies, with eager scientists pursuing the preservation of stressed sirenian populations with determination and grit.—Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews

This latest addition to an always-intriguing series describes the work of Fernando Rosas, John Reynolds and Lucy Keith studying manatees in different parts of the world.Gentle, slow-moving vegetarians, these curious aquatic mammals are distant relatives of elephants and live in the Amazon, in Florida and nearby ocean waters and in West African rivers. The three different but similar species are all listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as extremely vulnerable to extinction. Florida's protected manatees are a tourist attraction, easy to see in the clear waters of the Crystal River and in discharge zones of power plants, where they congregate for warmth in cold spells. The more mysterious manatees of Brazil and West Africa lurk in murky rivers and are sometimes killed and eaten. These three researchers track the animals in different ways, use biological techniques to learn more about their lives, work with people of the area toward protection and even, in Brazil, experiment with returning some to the wild from captivity. Like other books in this series, this is distinguished by clear, realistic explanations of scientific fieldwork and well-reproduced photographs, many taken by the author. The text, on the advanced side for the intended audience, is broken up by captioned photos, some mounted as snapshots. Overall, it lives up to the standards set by others in this stellar series. (maps, resources, glossary, author's note, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)

Children's Literature - Laura Ruttig
Beautiful cover art and gorgeous photos of gentle manatees provide the highlight of this densely written picture book. Unfortunately, the large colorful photos contrast poorly with the long paragraph-style text. The formatting makes this title difficult to read, particularly at the intended age levels. The book focuses broadly on the status of the manatees as vulnerable on the threatened species list, as well as the types of manatees (African, Amazonian, and Floridian) and their study. Evolutionary connections between the species and other animals are briefly explored, as is possible migration that led to the development of the African manatee. Several short stories about scientists studying manatees are shared, but are not well connected. Disappointingly, the book misses the opportunity to explore any options on how readers might get involved in the conservation effort, not even by listing suggestions for increasing recycling or scientific career ideas for young readers. The text is not poorly written, but the paragraph formatting makes it difficult for the reader to focus on any key details. The title does include a one-page resource, containing some general manatee facts, as well as a short glossary. Overall, manatee-lovers will want to grab this title if only for the fantastic photos, but it falls short as a classroom resource. Reviewer: Laura Ruttig; Ages 8 to 12.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547152547
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
04/11/2011
Series:
Scientists in the Field Series
Pages:
80
Sales rank:
1,163,716
Product dimensions:
11.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)
Lexile:
NC1210L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"It lives up to the standards set by others in this stellar series."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"This is a living, breathing window into the watery world of manatee studies, with eager scientists pursuing the preservation of stressed sirenian populations with determination and grit."—School Library Journal

Meet the Author

Peter Lourie is an author and photographer. He has published more than twenty books for young readers. He lives with his family in Vermont.

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