Manatees in Florida are dying in “unprecedented” numbers due to starvation.
So far in 2021, a record number of manatees have died in Florida, in what has been termed as a “unprecedented” mortality epidemic.
Between January 1 and July 2, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission recorded 841 manatee deaths.
This indicates that the death rate in the first half of 2021 has surpassed the previous high of 830 for the entire year of 2013.
The majority of the deaths are believed to have occurred during migration as a result of a lack of seagrass, which is an important food source for the creatures.
Manatees, often known as sea cows, are big aquatic creatures that live around the coast.
“Unprecedented manatee mortality due to malnutrition was recorded on the Atlantic coast this past winter and spring,” Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) wrote in a comment attached to the most recent manatee mortality data table.
“Manatees travelled to and through the Indian River Lagoon during the colder months, when the majority of seagrass had died off.”
The long-term health repercussions of “prolonged hunger” on surviving manatees, according to the institution, are unknown.
It also emphasized the importance of acknowledging boat strikes, often known as “watercraft-related mortality,” as a persistent danger to manatee populations.
A boat was implicated in 63 of the 841 documented manatee deaths, which is slightly more than the five-year average of 60.
The vast majority of fatalities, 518, were not necropsied, which is an euphemism for an animal autopsy. This is up from the five-year average of 49 deaths that were not necropsied.
The 841 deaths reported this year are more than double the five-year average of 352. For months, the rate of deaths has been in the news.
The manatee deaths have been classified as an unusual mortality event (UME) by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which means they were unexpected, significant, and required immediate action.
The loss of seagrass in the Indian River Lagoon has been identified as a main issue by experts.
The loss of seagrass has been connected to pollution of waterways caused by humans. Algal blooms occur in the water as a result of pollutants such as fertilizer runoff and sewage leaks.
Because they consume oxygen and sunlight in the water, these algal blooms hinder seagrass from growing.
Patrick Rose is a biologist who specializes in aquatics. This is a condensed version of the information.