We love our sweet Florida manatees, but they are in trouble right now.
So far this year, already there have been 432 deaths. That number is almost three times the five-year average. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, last year there were 636 manatee deaths recorded in total.
So why is this happening? Jaclyn Lopez is the Florida director of the Center for Biological Diversity. She says, “It’s this combination we have of cold weather, we have a reduction of where manatees can go, and in the places where manatees can go, as a consequence of human development and other activities, we have poor water quality which has resulted in these grass die-offs.”
The most deaths this year have occurred so far along the Indian River in Brevard County. And here the sea grass supply is low. Lopez explains, “A manatee will choose starvation over freezing to death.”
So far this year, there have been 41 manatee deaths related to cold stress. Because of coronavirus pandemic-related personnel shortages, almost 70% of the deceased manatees have not been studied to figure out their cause of death.
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