Politically charged chaos has become a recurring theme throughout America in the past few months, especially surrounding the results of the 2020 presidential election. One smaller instance of this occurred when a Florida manatee was found with “Trump” written on its back.
When this news first spread, many people first thought that these words were physically carved into the manatee’s skin, causing what looked like severe scarring in the photos that were taken. However, through further investigation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service discovered that these block letters had just been written into the algae that the sea cow was coated with.
Though this gave many readers a sense of relief, the action was still illegal, as Florida law states that manatees can be approached, but not touched. Manatees are considered a threatened species and are protected under the Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978. There are only an estimated 13,000 manatees left on Earth today, as they have long struggled to coexist with humans.
Even though this act was not physically harmful to the animal, accustoming a manatee to human touch can cause them to become more comfortable around humans and boats, therefore becoming more susceptible to injury in the long run.
The majority of the debate surrounding the issue seems to be regarding whether or not this manatee was injured or truly harmed. However, the bigger picture lies in the extent of politics to the natural world. Whichever way one’s opinions swings, it is clear that politics and the emotions surrounding them have reached unusually far in recent times.