State wildlife authorities have established a new record every week since July for the number of manatee fatalities in a single year. More than 1,000 manatees died in Florida on Wednesday, exceeding a tragic threshold.
Death of Florida Manatees
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a total of 1,003 manatees fatalities have been counted through Nov. 12.
In comparison to the previous record of 830 set in 2013, this year's total surpasses last year's total of 637. The previous record was broken midway through 2021 in Florida. Each Friday, the state receives reports of manatee deaths, publishing them the next Wednesday.
'It makes me sad and angry,' Patrick Rose of the Save the Manatee Club said.
The awful year started quite quickly. Scientists believe that manatees in the Indian River Lagoon in Brevard County were protected from the cold by warm discharges from a power station.
Tens of thousands of acres of seagrass have been destroyed by algal blooms in the region over the years. As a result of the destruction of these seagrasses, there wasn't enough food for the manatees causing many to go without food.
"It could've been prevented," according to Rose. Human-caused pollution, such as septic and sewage overflows and fertilizer runoff during rainstorms, has exacerbated the algal blooms that have destroyed the lagoon.
What Might Have Caused the Death of This Marine Mammals?
Manatee fatalities are not only the result of starvation. According to statistics from the Conservation Commission, about 100 died in crashes with boats or other watercraft.
Red Tide has also made a contribution. This summer, a poisonous bloom devastated the beaches of Tampa Bay and Pinellas County.
Scientists worry for the long-term viability of one of Florida's most cherished and iconic species after this 2021 die-off.
In 2017, federal wildlife authorities upgraded the status of manatees from endangered to threatened. Recent estimates from the Conservation Commission reveal the number of living manatees is atleast 7,520.
Bill to Return Manatees to an Endangered Status
In August, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., presented a bill to reclassify manatees as endangered. When it comes to funding and attention for endangered species, Buchanan believes that HR 4946, if approved, would bring it.
"I represent Manatee County. Manatees are so beloved there, but also across Florida," Buchanan said. "People are very passionate about it."
It's not only the cuteness of manatees that makes them so fascinating, according to Rose. For the health of the ecosystem as a whole, their well-being is very important. In addition, human health may also be harmed by poor water quality, since many fish and turtles consume or reside in seagrass.
According to Phys.org, the damage that brought about the die-off the previous winter cannot be repaired easily. If manatees in Brevard County are once again unable to locate food in winter, state biologists and environmentalists fear a recurrence.
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