tampabay.com

Junior Journalism: No-wake zones

By BECKY BAGLEY and JESSA ARTEZ
Published February 15, 2007


Junior Journalism is a partnership between the Citrus Times and the Citrus County School District to encourage writing. Fifth-graders were asked to compose a narrative or expository essay on a provided topic. Two top essays were selected at the district level from the participating schools' winning essays.

The fifth-grade topic was: Officials have voted to eliminate the no-wake zone on rivers in Citrus County during manatee season. You are the student reporter who reports on this and how it will impact the county. Students could write one of three types of stories.

Narrative: Tells the story of a manatee traveling in the river before and after this change.

Expository: Explanation of what a no-wake zone is, why it would be a law, and why officials may have voted to eliminate it.

Persuasive: Some people feel that the no-wake zone needs to be reinstated. Try to convince the community that these people have the correct viewpoint.

These are the winning fifth-grade essays:

Harrowing tale has two very different endings

Marissa Manatee swam happily through the crystal clear waters of the river. She spotted a shadowy figure moving quickly toward her. "It's probably some of my manatee friends," Marissa thought. But she was terribly wrong.

When the figure reached Marissa, she realized the figure was not her friends but a boat motor! She tried to swim out of the way but the boat was moving too fast! The boat motor hit Marissa and sliced open her flipper.

Marissa swam into her underwater city's hospital. "Help me! Help me!" she shouted at Doctor Michael Manatee.

"That's a deep cut," Doctor Michael said.

"Oh, please help me!" Marissa cried.

"I'm sorry, Marissa but there's nothing I can do." Doctor Michael replied sadly.

So Marissa now has a huge hole in her flipper from the cut.

"This is crazy!" Doctor Michael shouted angrily. "Fifty manatees got cut this year because of boat motors! We've got to do something about this!" he announced to the citizens of Manateeopolis.

The citizens cheered in agreement. All the manatees in the river swam to land and walked to City Hall. "You have speed limits, stop signs and red lights," the manatees told the mayor and townspeople. "So why don't you have speed limits or stop signs for boats? Our friends and family are being hurt because of boats."

"Perhaps you're right," the mayor said thoughtfully. "We will put speed limits and no-wake zones in all the rivers," he announced.

Now there are no more manatee cuts by boats and Manateeopolians can swim without worry of being sliced up.

Let's see what would have happened if there were no-wake zones before Marissa Manatee swam by:

Marissa Manatee swam through the river and noticed a shadowy figure moving toward her. "It's probably my friends," Marissa thought. But she was terribly wrong. When the figure reached Marissa, she noticed it was a boat motor. She quickly swam out of the way. "Gee, I'm so glad they have no-wake zones! I could have just been hit!" Marissa exclaimed.

Isn't the second beginning of the story a much better one? You're right, it is. So next time you're out fishing or boating, think about Marissa Manatee and the story you just read and drive slowly even if there isn't a no-wake zone. All manatees will thank you for that.

Manatees in danger without no-wake zone

My name is Karl. I'm a half-ton 4-year-old manatee. I live in a calm river that flows into the Gulf of Mexico. My mom was killed by a speedboat that was going too fast in the no-wake zone. This happened three years ago. I've been very cautious ever since.

My life is pretty average. Few boats come here, because they can't go fast in the no-wake zone. I'm the only manatee in this part of the river, so I make friends with the fish that live around here.

Usually I spend my day eating and sleeping among the kelp beds. Not today. As I munch quietly on some seaweed, three speedboats, one after the other, rip through the water overhead, narrowly missing my back with the propellers. What in the world!?!

Quickly I swim over to where the no-wake sign used to be. Where is it? I look around to be sure. As another boat zips by I dive in to the seaweed below. That was too close. Humans must have gotten rid of the no-wake zone. Oh, no!

Now, day after day, I'm frequently diving into the seaweed beds to dodge speeding boats. I always have to be on alert. I'm just not safe now.