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Saving the giants – A new stamp calls for greater vigilance in protecting manatees

March 27, 2024

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The Postal Service will release a stamp Wednesday, March 27, to raise awareness of the threats posed to the West Indian manatee, a beloved marine mammal.

Manatees inhabit Florida’s inland waterways and warm areas of the coastal Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. They have no natural predators in the wild, but humans have put them at risk of extinction.

Although manatees have rebounded from low numbers in the 1970s, recent die-offs have raised alarm. Threats to manatees include speed-boat collisions, red tides and toxic algae blooms that kill seagrass, an important food source.

Every day, a West Indian manatee eats up to 10 percent of its weight in aquatic plants. Adults can reach 11 feet long and 1,500 pounds. Manatees are slow swimmers and slow to reproduce — a female has one calf at a time and may tend to it for two years.

On the stamp, a manatee placidly lolls underwater, just beneath ripples on the surface. Many types of hungry freshwater fish clean algae off a manatee’s skin, and the West Indian manatee on the stamp is accompanied by two such fish.

Derry Noyes, an art director for USPS, designed the stamp using a digital illustration by Nancy Stahl.

The Forever stamp will be available in booklets of 20 at Post Offices and usps.com.

The stamp will be dedicated in Silver Springs, FL, on March 27, which is Manatee Appreciation Day, observed annually on the last Wednesday in March.

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