Friday, October 19, 2018
Things To Do

Angry about Emoji, the dead baby manatee? Here's what you can do to help

The sadness and anger arising from the death of a baby manatee nicknamed Emoji, who was brought to Lowry Park Zoo with a stomach full of trash and plastic bags, has prompted manatee fans to lash out at the human cause and ask: What can we do?

There are a number of wildlife organizations, including the zoo itself, that welcome volunteers and donations in their efforts to save the threatened sea cows and clean up trash-choked waterways.

But that doesn't bring back Emoji.

The orphan manatee was brought to the zoo by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in late October when he was about 2 weeks old and weighed just 66 pounds. Along with cold stress and other health issues, veterinarians found Emoji had plastic bags in his stomach. Many orphaned calves also ingest fishing line, fishing hooks and other pollutants while searching for food.

"Now more than ever, we must hold ourselves accountable," said Dr. Ray Ball, senior veterinarian for Lowry Park Zoo, "whether that's keeping trash and plastics out of our waterways or being more mindful of potential consequences of propeller strikes on wildlife while boating."

Raymond Fagnon, 47, a computer engineer from St. Petersburg, said the story of Emoji shook him, but it wasn't the first time.

"It saddens me every time I hear an animal died due to poor human behavior," he said.

He loves to cruise around the waterways in St. Petersburg on his WaveRunner and got so fed up with the trash two years ago he rigged up a sturdy 10-gallon bucket that he attached to his personal watercraft so he can more easily pick up floating items. In addition, he uses a net to scoop up cigarette butts and other floating trash that marine animals could end up ingesting.

Many days, his bucket is full after less than an hour of cruising around the Vinoy basin, he said. He got so disgusted he began logging his finds at themariner.org, a Facebook page he set up to show how widespread the littering is and to inspire other boaters to pick up trash.

"Why do we trash our beautiful city? It's gross," Fagnon said. "Please spread the word. The ocean is not your trash can."

Fagnon faulted the city of St. Petersburg for using trash cans along the waterfront that don't have lids because he sometimes sees plastic bags and trash blowing out of the overflowing cans into the water.

Mike Jefferis, the city's parks and recreation director, said it's "horrifying" to think trash from his parks ends up in waterways. But he said he's had a tough time finding trash cans that people will actually use.

He's currently testing domed trash cans at Albert Whitted Park and found "people are too lazy to push it in the hole and just drop it by the side."

"If it were as easy just to slap lids on trash cans we'd do that tomorrow," Jefferis said. "We are testing to figure out what would work best. But it's crazy."

Here are some ways to help make the world a better place for manatees:

• Lowry Park Zoo's Manatee Hospital takes donations and accepts volunteers who assist the only nonprofit, acute care facility of its kind specifically dedicated to critical care for injured wild manatees. You can find ways to donate or volunteer at lowryparkzoo.org/involvement/donate or call (813) 935-8552.

• "Give a Day For the Bay" is a volunteer program sponsored by the Tampa Bay Estuary Program. Half-day workdays are held Saturdays several times a year at various parks and preserves throughout the Tampa Bay area. They remove invasive plants and help restore habitats. There's a volunteer button at tbep.org, or call (727) 893-2765.

• Tampa Bay Watch performs environmental projects throughout the year, using volunteers for coastal cleanups and restoration. Go to tampabaywatch.org or call (727) 867-8166, ext. 233.

Some rules to live by from the Tampa Bay Estuary Program:

• Watch for manatees, especially in winter. Wear polarized glasses to reduce surface glare and allow better through-water visibility. When a manatee surfaces to breathe, only the tip of its snout is visible.

• Obey posted speed and manatee caution signs. Avoid or travel very slowly across shallow grass beds, where manatees feed and rest.

• Stow trash and properly discard fishing line. Don't release balloons over the water.

• Report violations, manatee injuries or deaths to the wildlife commission's 24-hour hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922). Cellular customers can contact *FWC or #FWC.

Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at [email protected] Follow @SharonKWn.

   
Comments
Review: The Breeders finally splash back into Tampa with loose but lively concert at the Ritz Ybor

Review: The Breeders finally splash back into Tampa with loose but lively concert at the Ritz Ybor

Twenty-five years have passed since the Breeders last came close to Tampa Bay, opening for none other than Nirvana at the Lakeland Civic Center in 1993.Yet when they finally returned, playing the Ritz Ybor on Thursday night, they sounded like they ne...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Sports on TV/radio for Friday, Oct. 19

TODAYAutosMonster Energy Cup: Hollywood Casino 400 qualifying7 p.m.NBCSNBaseball playoffsNLCS: Dodgers at Brewers8:30 p.m.FS1; 620-AMCollege footballYale at Penn7 p.m.ESPNUColorado State at Boise State9 p.m.ESPN2Air Force at UNLV10 p.m.CBSSNCollege h...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Singer Seal to headline February’s Florida Orchestra gala

Singer Seal to headline February’s Florida Orchestra gala

ST. PETERSBURG — The Florida Orchestra has landed Seal, a four-time Grammy winner, to headline its fundraising gala at the Mahaffey Theater Feb. 9.The London-born star, who has sold more than 30 million albums on the strength of his versatile, smooth...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Riverview Chamber readies for another Trick or Treat Street

Riverview Chamber readies for another Trick or Treat Street

Annual event draws thousands to Riverview High School for seasonal fun
Published: 10/18/18
Gift of Peace Luncheon helps The Spring continue its mission

Gift of Peace Luncheon helps The Spring continue its mission

Amid on-going problems, the nonprofit continues to advocate again domestic violence, protect victims, and promote healthy communities.
Published: 10/18/18
Find A Friend: Sailor the silver tiger tabby

Find A Friend: Sailor the silver tiger tabby

Look for this star at the KittyCon on Oct. 27.
Published: 10/18/18
Anberlin to reunite for Underoath concert at the Yuengling Center in Tampa

Anberlin to reunite for Underoath concert at the Yuengling Center in Tampa

Metalcore group Underoath promised something special for their biggest-ever hometown show, a Dec. 14 concert at the Yuengling Center in Tampa.They weren't kidding.The Grammy-nominated rockers have recruited their friends Anberlin, a beloved Winter Ha...
Published: 10/18/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay on Oct. 19

Top things to do in Tampa Bay on Oct. 19

The Florida Orchestra: Music of Queen: Fronted by a full rock band and vocalist Brody Dolyniuk, the orchestra performs the legendary band’s greatest hits with power and grandeur. 8 p.m., Mahaffey Theater, 400 First St. S, St. Petersburg. $35 and up. ...
Published: 10/18/18
Reggae Rise Up lineup: Slightly Stoopid, Method Man and Redman, more coming to St. Petersburg

Reggae Rise Up lineup: Slightly Stoopid, Method Man and Redman, more coming to St. Petersburg

One of the biggest reggae-rock festivals east of the Mississippi is adding a little hip-hop into the mix.Method Man and Redman are part of the initial lineup for next year's Reggae Rise Up festival, returning March 15-17 to Vinoy Park in St. Petersbu...
Published: 10/17/18
Updated: 10/18/18

Sports on TV/radio for Thursday, October 18

TODAYBaseball playoffsALCS: Red Sox at Astros8 p.m.TBS; 620-AMBoxingMiddleweights: Quigley vs. Hernandez10 p.m.ESPN2College footballGeorgia State at Arkansas State7:30 p.m.ESPNUStanford at Arizona State9 p.m.ESPNCollege soccerWomen: Texas A&M at Alab...
Published: 10/17/18