Why You Should Never Hug a Manatee
“Why would you even consider it?” I hear you ask and what’s more, “What on earth does it have to do with a wedding business? Even a green, eco-friendly favours and sustainable wedding gift business?”
I love manatees! And when Jo and I set up our sustainable wedding favours and eco gift company, Green Manatee (‘cos we have to be honest ‘Never Hug a Manatee’ is a right mouthful for any company to call itself!), this was the one animal which gently lumbered out, for us both. From the outset, we were both sold and the more we discovered about them, the more we agreed that they were the perfect choice to be our brand icon – Manatees are closely related to elephants (although they are often known as sea cows). They are gentle, pondering, slow-moving herbivores who can live in both salt and fresh water, but never go on land. They have large flippers, rounded heads and flat tails which propel them along, they are often covered in algae (hence the ‘green’) and are incredibly sensitive and curious – particularly of people and boats, which definitely gets them into trouble!
Despite their unusual appearance, they are the stuff of legend… sailors of bygone years told stories of the mermaids they sighted on their travels and many believe that these were infact manatees, with their mermaid-like tails and flippers that looked like stubby arms. Whilst they’re not exactly known for their ravishing beauty, don’t forget that these poor blokes had been away at sea for months, maybe years at a time and didn’t get to see much in the way of females. I can only assume the rum played a part too! (For the record, I don’t think any sailor actually managed to hug a manatee or was dissuaded from doing so!)
Manatees can be found in the Amazon, Africa, The West Indies and Florida and due to their curious nature, they tend to swim too close to boats and often, devastatingly get killed by speedboats (a particular problem in Florida where they are often discovered by holidaymakers around busy beaches).
As a result, manatees were highlighted as endangered and at risk and laws came into effect to protect them and prevent humans from coming into close contact with them. The more accustomed to humans they become, the more likely they are to suffer harm caused by stress and injury or death when moving too slowly through the water in the face of fast moving boats and so according to the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act, it is illegal to molest, harass, disturb or hug a manatee!
This act is incredibly creating an about-turn in the numbers of manatees in Florida, which are effectively been brought back from the brink of extinction.
“So how does this relate to Green Manatee? What do these tropical sea cows have to do with ethical favours, sustainable wedding gifts, or zero waste shopping?” I hear you beg (most likely losing the will to live at this point…).
If you’ve read our Hi! We’re Green Manatee blog post, you’ll have seen how being a part of the undeniably wasteful wedding industry has been sitting very heavily on both Jo and I for a number of years and our individual personal panics as to how the future of our planet will look for our children, their children and so on, has made us both, independently think that the whole thing is a pointless and unwinnable venture.
Yet… with some help, focus, attention, care and love by a group of dedicated people, the manatee has been saved and incredibly will continue to thrive for years to come.
And if the manatee can do it, maybe, just maybe there’s hope for the rest of us?
Maybe we can actually make it after all! Zoë x