Florida (UCTP Taino News) - The Manatee or “sea cow” is a gentle sea creature that inhabits tropical waters from Florida through the Caribbean island chain, down to coastal South America. The word Manatee or Manati comes from the Taino Indian language and there is even a town in Puerto Rico that retains the name. The Manatee feeds only on aquatic plants and was an important part of Taino culture much like the buffalo was to some North American Tribal Nations. Today, the Manatee is still considered sacred to many Taino who are happy to note that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recently voted to delay downgrading the manatee's status from endangered to “threatened.”
In a letter issued on Monday, September 10th, Florida Governor Charlie Crist called the manatee one of Florida’s “beloved natural resources.” The Governor urged the Commission to postpone their decision given the need for a better method to estimate the Manatee population and the record 417 manatee deaths in 2006.
The FWC decided to defer the decision on down-listing manatees until at least the Dec. 5-6 meeting in Key Largo, FL.
UCTP Representative Mildred Caraira Gandia, a Boriken Taino who lives in Miami welcomed the decision as “good news for Manatees.” She and other community members plan to continue to monitor the situation.