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Manatee Research Project

Working Together for the Manatee
Students will research the manatee to find out why it is endangered.   In addition, you will make speeches and posters to tell boaters how to protect the manatee.
Target Skills:  Research Process, Summarizing and Analyzing Information and Evaluation
In this project, students will:
  • view pictures of manatees and maps showing their migration patterns, and describe the manatees' range by looking at some pictures of manatees as well as manatee spring migration maps;
  • hypothesize the impact of Florida's recreational activities on manatees;
  • research and answer questions about manatees and the human and environmental factors that threaten them; and
  • write presentations they would give to boaters who want to protect manatees while continuing their boating activities.

Task #1:

 Students write the following manatee research questions on their own paper, leaving about 1/2 page space between each one for their answers.

  • What does a manatee need to survive?
  • What human activities are threatening manatee survival?
  • What manatee behaviors and characteristics make them vulnerable?
  • How quickly does the manatee reproduce? How does this reproduction rate affect its population numbers?
  • What can be done to help the manatee? What is being done?
Use these Web sites to answer the research questions.

National Geographic: Endangered Manatees Face Risks
Manatees & Dugongs
PBS: Nature—Monsters or Mermaids?
Save the Manatee Club

Task #2 
Students will then be asked to give a presentation to an association of boaters who use the Florida coast for recreation. These people are concerned about the manatees, but they don't want to give up boating. Have students write speeches (approximately one page) that describe:
  • the reasons why manatees are endangered, including the behaviors of both manatees and boaters;
  • actions that have already been taken to help manatees; and
  • specific ways that the boaters can participate in this effort.
Task #3 
Students will also include a poster to be shown to boaters to help save the manatee population.
Task #4 
Students will also read the first paragraph of Monsters or Mermaids?, describing how early explorers in Florida perceived manatees. Ask students to use what they have learned in this lesson to write statements they might make to these early explorers explaining the true nature of manatees. 

Task #5 
Students will read about the Columbus Zoo's manatee habitat.   They will then describe the things this zoo has done to simulate the manatee's natural habitat. 

Task #6 
Students will answer the journal questions about manatees' range in the Home on the Range activity.
Other Interesting LInks:
Information obtained through www.nationalgeographic.com.
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