COCOA BEACH, Florida - Fed up with manatees eating all the sea grass and pooping in his canal, one Cocoa Beach, Florida man has taken measures into his own hands to save the Indian River Lagoon by catching and cooking a baby manatee.
Many anglers and waterfront property owners have taken to social media to blame the lagoon's plight on the record number of manatees and the unnatural manatee migration patterns caused by the warm water discharges from the FPL power plant in Port Saint John. An environmental group filed a lawsuit in 2014 which contends that such thermal pollution is harmful to the environment. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection estimates that manatees are responsible for 1.7% to 6.7% of the total nitrogen loads and 0.7% to 3.0% of the total phosphorus loads entering the Indian River Lagoon system.
"As you know, over the past week some blow-hards here have stated they would make a donation to the Save the Manatee Club every time someone here mentioned manatee as being a potential cause of the Banana River decline," said Bill Geiger, Jr.
An 800 to 1,200-pound adult manatee can eat up 10% to 15% of its body weight daily in aquatic vegetation which mostly consists of seagrass. According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Manatee Recovery Plan, manatees sometime graze on seagrass which leaves the possibility for regrowth - but manatees also "root" seagrass - meaning the entire plant is pulled and the underwater sediment is disturbed. Based on those consumption rates, an average manatee can consume and/or destroy around 3 acres of seagrass a year, depending on the density of the seagrass per acre.
"I do hereby commit to catch, cook and eat a manatee each time someone threatens to make a donation to the SMC," Geiger said. "Being a man of my word, I have made the first catch today. I went for a baby, thinking the meat may be more tender, (as veal is with a calf). It was actually easier than I thought to catch! Even the babies are heavy!"
Geiger's only complaint about catching and cooking the baby manatee was that his grill was not large enough.
"However, I have a problem. I'm going to need a larger grill," said Geiger who landed his first catch on April 1st (April Fool's Day). "I have it on ice right now, but need to get it cooked pretty soon. Does anyone have a rotisserie I can borrow to cook it over an open fire? I'll repay you with some GOOD meat!"