Florida manatees, Trichechus manatus latirostrus, inhabit the waters of Jacksonville year round, with highest concentrations occurring during summer months. An endangered species protected under both the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, Florida manatees have been the subject of state, federal, and university research since the enactment of these conservation measures.
Due to the unfortunate reality of watercraft- caused manatee mortalities in Florida, Florida's Governor and cabinet in 1989 identified thirteen counties (including Duval) experiencing high mortality rates. These "key" counties were mandated to take positive measures to reduce this problem, in the form of Manatee Protection Plans that would address the multitude of threats facing manatees. In 1993, the City of Jacksonville contracted Jacksonville University researchers, under the direction of Dr. A. Quinton White, Jr., to gather scientific data for the development of an effective, enforceable plan. The JU research has encompassed a multi-faceted, ongoing approach to data collection including: year round aerial and aquatic manatee surveys, ship/boat/recreation water activities, submerged aquatic vegetation and habitat mapping, and educational efforts. An extension of this effort is the MaRCO web site.
Visitors are encouraged to explore the site and learn more about these gentle creatures. Area schools are encouaged to use the site as part of their lessons on the environment, biology or ecology. Teachers interested in partnering with this project are encouraged to contact Dr. Quinton White at firstname.lastname@example.org.