Manatees in Florida are dying in record numbers, according to the latest environmental news.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, manatees in Florida waterways are dying at an all-time high, primarily due to malnutrition caused by the loss of seagrass meadows. The majority of the deaths are occurring around the shore of Brevard County, near Orlando.
In the first half of 2021, 841 manatee deaths were observed. A toxic-red tide epidemic killed 830 manatees in 2013, setting a new record. In the year 2020, 637 manatees died in Florida waters.
After being declared endangered, the manatee population had rebounded, but a recent spike in mortality has put them in jeopardy once more.
According to National Geographic, manatees feed “water grasses, weeds, and algae.”
The Indian River Lagoon, which is home to over 4,300 plant and animal species, has become algae-dominated, making all sea animals ill. Some biologists believe that water pollution is to blame for the loss of seagrass and contamination.
For months, the manatee death rate has been a source of concern. A top Florida official told the Washington Post in June that the situation was a “crisis.”
When you see hundreds of manatees dying like this, it’s not hyperbole,” Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director of the organization Center for Biological Diversity, said.
The deaths of manatees due to malnutrition, according to Martine de Wit, a veterinarian with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, “signals there is something really wrong with the water quality,” she told the New York Times in June.
Major water pollution has been reported in Florida recently. After a wastewater reservoir from a disused phosphate mine collapsed in April, Florida faced a water shortage.
Manatees are especially vulnerable to boat hits, which resulted in 63 deaths in 2021.
Manatees were downgraded from endangered to threatened status in 2017, following a significant increase in population. Environmentalists are requesting that manatees be reclassified as endangered in order to restore the population to historical levels.
Manatees are dying in historic numbers in Florida! 1. Polluted water kills seagrass, starving manatees to death.
Manatees are being killed in historic numbers as a result of boat strikes.
Scientists warn that pouring toxic water into Tampa Bay from historic Piney Point would be disastrous for manatees. pic.twitter.com/R7P6Ne4l7W
NEW: Only halfway through the year, 2021 has already broken the record for the deadliest year for #Florida manatees.
Seagrass depletion in the Indian River Lagoon, according to biologists, is a catalyst for famine and malnutrition. So far, 841 deaths have been reported.