Energy & Environment

1,000 manatee deaths reported this year in Florida, eclipsing previous record

More manatees have died in Florida so far this year than in any other year on record.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) tally on Wednesday showed 1,003 manatees have died in 2021. 

Previously, the highest number of annual manatee deaths recorded was 830, in 2013. In 2020, 637 manatees died. 

Only 153 manatees were determined so far to have died of natural causes in 2021. Other causes of death include watercraft and cold stress. 

In the case of more than half of the deceased manatees, the cause of death remains undetermined. Scientists are continuing to investigate.

The FWC said in October that hundreds of manatees have starved to death due to contaminants affecting seagrass, which the manatees eat. 

“Our statewide death count from all sources has been higher than it’s ever been reported before,” Melissa Tucker, director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s habitat and species conservation division, told the House State Affairs Committee. “This is a starvation issue. There’s not enough seagrasses that are available to the manatees.”

Tucker said that a sharp spike in deaths occurred between December and the end of May, when the manatees congregated in warm water.

Tags Florida manatee

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