Cold weather, a decline in seagrass due to development, and contaminated waterways have contributed to 432 deaths this year
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/202 ... 1615494244
The number of deaths, 432 so far this year, is nearly three times the five-year average of 146 deaths between 1 January and 5 March, the South Florida SunSentinel reported, citing figures from the Florida fish and wildlife conservation commission. Last year, the state recorded 637 manatee deaths, and in 2019, 607.
“It’s this combination we have of cold weather, we have a reduction of where manatees can go, and in the places where manatees can go, as a consequence of human development and other activities, we have poor water quality which has resulted in these grass die-offs,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director of the Center for Biological Diversity.
The largest number of deaths is in Brevard county, with 179, the newspaper reported. Many of those deaths occurred along the Indian River, which is a common warm-water gathering place, officials said. The manatees swim away to eat seagrass, which is their main source of food. But they aren’t finding as much, so they return hungry to the warmer water.
“A manatee will choose starvation over freezing to death,” Lopez said.