Manatee Insanity: Inside the War over Florida's Most Famous Endangered Species

Manatee Insanity: Inside the War over Florida's Most Famous Endangered Species

by Craig Pittman


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Manatee Insanity: Inside the War over Florida's Most Famous Endangered Species by Craig Pittman

Why is the manatee just as imperiled today as it was 40 years ago?

"The best available, most factual account of the decades-long struggle to protect the Florida manatee, skillfully told by a veteran journalist who has followed the story closely. I’ve been involved in this controversy for over 30 years, and I learned countless things about it that I never knew!"—Daryl Domning, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

"The Florida legislature gave the manatee its own license plate, and Jimmy Buffet sang poetic lyrics about the iconic creature, but Craig Pittman offers a whole new perspective—the manatee as battleground. With a cast of characters including environmentalists and biologists, developers and boaters, lawyers and lobbyists, politicians and shady citizens, Manatee Insanity is a colorful work of non-fiction."—Keith Rizzardi, South Florida Water Management District

Loveable or loathed? Poster child for conservation efforts or impediment to development? Nuisance or in need of protection? For the past two decades, the quiet manatee has been a flash point of frequent environmental debates.

Included on the very first endangered species list issued in 1967, the docile creatures have stirred curiosity and passions for more than a hundred years. They are Florida's most famous endangered species, as well as its most controversial. Manatees appear on hundreds of license plates, attract hordes of tourists, and expose the uneasy relationships between science and the law and between freedom and responsibility like no other animal.

As passions have flared and resentments have grown, the battle over manatee protection has evolved into a war, and no reporter has followed the story more closely than Craig Pittman. He’s flown with scientists trying to count manatees from overhead. He’s been on the water with the leader of the biggest pro-boater group. He's observed biologists dissecting the animals and politicians discussing their fate.

Manatee Insanity provides the first in-depth history of the attempts to provide legal protection for the manatee. Along the way, Pittman takes a close look at the major and minor players in the dispute, from Jacques-Yves Cousteau to Jeb Bush, from Jimmy Buffett to O. J. Simpson, from a popular children's book author to a federal lawman who dressed in a gorilla suit for the ultimate undercover assignment.

A volume in the Florida History and Culture Series, edited by Raymond Arsenault and Gary R. Mormino

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813034621
Publisher: University Press of Florida
Publication date: 05/09/2010
Series: Florida History and Culture Series
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 855,483
Product dimensions: 6.13(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Craig Pittman, native Floridian, is an award-winning journalist for the state's largest paper, the St. Petersburg Times. He is also the coauthor of Paving Paradise: Florida's Vanishing Wetlands and the Failure of No Net Loss.

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Manatee Insanity: Inside the War over Florida's Most Famous Endangered Species 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thats me andvi am insane.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Okay so this book basicly represents my life
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pittman does a superb job describing the now decades-long war between all the special interest groups, scientists, and the government, over this wonderful docile creature who has no natural enemy except man. Manatees can offer no defense except to try and swim away from dangers and mothers cannot even protect their calves except to get between them and danger. They are total vegetarians but boats and development have ruined or destroyed many areas where the water grasses grow. The warm water they rely on from the natural springs is being pulled from the aquifer to water lawns and golf courses.(They cannot tolerate temperatures below 68 degrees and the springs are 72). He's dead-on with his insights on how money and politics have played major roles to trump development over science at the local, state, federal, and international levels. He does try to balance the equation by telling what the other sides have to say, however flawed I think their reasonings are. For me this book was almost a page-turner to see what arguments would be floated up next. Read this book; get your friends to read this book! The manatee is the "canary" in the mine. If we fail to save this animal and its habitat there is not a lot of hope left for anything at any time. Something is only "saved" as long as it has no perceived value (land, water, animals, etc.). Let someone figure out how to make a buck and they will use their money and influence to get the place or animal re-designated to their desires to make that buck. Oddly enough all the businesses mentioned in this book are mostly still in business no matter how loudly they squawked before that the restrictions to save manatees would run them into bankruptcy (if anything, the economy would have been responsible for that, not the manatee). Meanwhile, manatees are still dying by the hand of man.