2021 could see record number of manatee deaths
2021 could see a record number of manatee deaths as 539 manatees have already shown up dead on shore.
In the first three months of 2021, 539 manatees have been found dead on shore. Last year, 637 manatees were found dead the whole year, local Florida news outlet WGCU reported.
The data compiled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service showed that 167 manatees have thus far been examined for cause of death.
There were 20 that were killed by watercraft, 66 died that naturally, 27 that died from cold stress and 29 that died as babies.
“Manatees do not do well in waters below 68 degrees Fahrenheit because they can develop ‘cold stress syndrome,’ which can make them more vulnerable to disease, lesions, and emaciation,” Jaclyn Lopez, the Florida director of the Center for Biological Diversity, told WGCU.
Along with cold stress, manatees are having trouble finding seagrass, their main source of food.
Chemicals in runoff water seem to be killing seagrass and a study found that the chemical glyphosate was found in half of the dead manatees that have been studied.
Although it isn’t clear the chemical is hurting the manatees, it is affecting their food supply, according to WGCU.
“Florida could better enforce compliance with the Clean Water Act in order to control the non-point source runoff nutrient pollution that fuels harmful algal blooms,” said Lopez. “Red tide is fed by these blooms and manatees are very susceptible to red tide.”