Sustainability Environment

Unprecedented effort to feed starving manatees has used 25 tons of lettuce so far

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Story at a glance

  • An effort to feed starving manatees along Florida’s Atlantic coast has so far used more than 25 tons of lettuce.
  • Between 300 and 350 threatened manatees on average are fed donated romaine lettuce each day at Florida Power and Light Plant.
  • Preliminary mortality data from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission shows that 261 manatees have died so far in 2022.

An effort to feed starving manatees along Florida’s Atlantic coast has so far used more than 25 tons of lettuce, officials said Wednesday.  

Between 300 and 350 threatened manatees on average are fed donated romaine lettuce each day at a Florida Power and Light plant as the mammal’s primary food source has been depleted by water pollution, The Associated Press (AP) reported. Officials said they’ve fed as many as 800 and as few as 60 manatees in a single day, according to the outlet.  

“We’re making a difference,” Ron Mezich of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reportedly said during an online news conference. “It gives us the greatest exposure to the greatest number of animals.” 

Preliminary mortality data from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission shows 261 manatees have died so far in 2022. This follows nearly 1,100 manatee deaths in 2021. The five-year average is around 625.  

“We’ve seen an uptick in mortalities,” said Tom Reinert, FWC south regional director and spokesman for the state-federal effort to save manatees. “We are adjusting our program to get as much food to manatees as we can.” 


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Reinart added that the best way to support manatee rescue efforts is through reporting sick, or starving manatees when spotted, and by donating.  

“Feed them with your dollars,” he said. 

Changing America has reached out to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.  


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