Politics bleeding into animal cruelty: Trump carving on a manatee spotted in Florida


Alyssa Chang and Lauren Guss

   On Jan. 10, a woman running a manatee boat tour in the Homosassa River in Florida noticed something unusual. After closer examination, Hailey Warrington found that a manatee, an endangered species, had endured the writing of “TRUMP” on its back. These letters, written with black algae, are evidence of harassing the gentle creature. As a serious crime, the harassment of the manatee will result in a fine of $50,000 and a one-year jail time, according to the Washington Post. 


  The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978 states, “It is unlawful for any person, at any time, intentionally or negligently, to annoy, molest, harass, or disturb any manatee,” according to Newsweek. Therefore, anyone convicted of these laws will be punished with a fine of up to $500 and a maximum of 60 days jail time. 


   The attacker easily fled due to the manatees’s large size, defenseless, gentle character, and slow swimming rate. Although investigations quickly opened surrounding the event, no progress has been confirmed yet. 


   As Florida’s unofficial mascot, around 6,300 sea cows remain in the state, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Manatees only just became a “threatened” species in 2017 from their previous “endangered” status given in 1973. Additionally, “Each year, about 100 manatees die of collisions with boats, which account for about 20 percent of manatee deaths,” as reported by  the Washington Post. Other than these strikes by fast-moving boats, habitat loss and algae blooms are also main causes of manatee population decline. Manatees are also victims of human attacks while they congregate shallow waters of local rivers. 


   “Politics, as ugly as it has gotten, we need to do better at working it out among ourselves,” Elizabeth Fleming, a senior Florida representative for the Defenders of Wildlife, told The Post in an interview. “This animal has nothing to do with politics. This animal is just trying to live its life.”