Kai’s Climate Story
How are you sensing climate change?
Growing up in Florida and being the daughter of a SeaWorld rescue team member has been an awesome experience. I witnessed first-hand the great lengths of the rescue and rehabilitation efforts that were done to save the manatee species. Over the years, climate change has affected the manatees ability to survive in their waning habitat. There were more manatee deaths this past year due to lack of food than all of my years growing up. I watched these manatee calves be rescued, receive critical care, be bottle fed around the clock for months and then be rehabilitated for years. This threatened species has to overcome numerous obstacles for their survival. Climate change has impacted their environment greatly. Due to the waterways being warmer, there is less food growing. The warmer Gulf Stream has caused them to venture further north out of their natural habitat. When the first cold front strikes, they are doomed. Their bodies don’t allow them to survive colder temperatures and this situation leaves them in desperate need to be rescued. Once winter hits, they would be isolated and stuck there and have no ability to survive. I would hear my mom leave our house at 3am to go on a rescue trip for these manatees. She would spend multiple days with the rescue team there trying to move these manatees families back down to Florida. I would go into Seaworld when these manatees came back to watch their rehabilitation process. Although it was deeply sad, it was heartwarming to see these manatees having a second chance at life. What was once a beautiful home for the manatees has now turned into a place that faces extraordinary habitat challenges.
How do these changes make you feel?
It has affected me so deeply that it has inspired me to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. The outcome for so many manatees has certainly been tragic but I feel motivated to be part of a team that can make a difference for one life at a time.
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