Presented By Craig Pittman

Ever since 1893, when Florida passed its very first law protecting manatees, these ungainly marine mammals have been casting their spell over the people of this state. Once a staple of the early settlers’ diet, manatees are now a popular icon of Florida’s environment, featured on everything from license plates to cheesy knick-knacks. This presentation traces the history of how manatees wound up on the endangered species list and why they remain there today, a story that features such characters as Jacques Cousteau and Jimmy Buffett.

Award-winning author and journalist Craig Pittman is a native Floridian. Born in Pensacola, he graduated from Troy State University in Alabama, where his muckraking work for the student paper prompted an agitated dean to label him “the most destructive force on campus.” Since then he has covered a variety of newspaper beats and quite a few natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires and the Florida Legislature. Since 1998, he has covered environmental issues for Florida’s largest newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times, winning state and national awards. He’s the co-author, with Matthew Waite, of Paving Paradise: Florida’s Vanishing Wetlands and the Failure of No Net Loss, (2009) and the author of Manatee Insanity: Inside the War Over Florida’s Most Famous Endangered Species (2010), and, most recently, The Scent of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, and the World’s Most Beautiful Orchid. He currently lives in St. Petersburg.

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Craig Pittman