Human invasion of
habitat is the most serious problem that all wildlife face today.
And even though marine mammals tend to live in the ocean, they are
still greatly effected by human population growth.
Perhaps the greatest
impact is on seals, sea lions, walruses, sea otters and polar bears
which live along shorelines and spend time on land as well as the
water. Because the spreading human population is utilizing more
and more coastal areas, the habitats of these animals are rapidly
disappearing. For example, seals are losing haul-out sites and
human-induced soil erosion is spoiling vital habitats in coastal
bays utilized by sea otters.
Humans not only take
over the shores of an area when then move in, but they also invade
the waters by use of boats. Even well intended boats such as whale
watch cruises can disrupt marine mammal activity, altering feeding
and social habits. Boating activity has become a particularly
acute concern in Florida, where manatee populations are imperiled
due to increasingly frequent collisions with water craft.
With the population
of the world increasing, is it important that we set up reserves and
take precautions to make sure that our activities have as little
effect as possible on the natural lives of these creatures.
Although surely all harm cannot be prevented, simple and reasonable
things like moderating our fisheries and keeping safe distances from
marine mammals can make a huge difference in their lives.