Goodbye, Manatees: Record Number of Deaths in 2013

For first time since records began in 1970s, number of manatee deaths for year in Florida tops 800

2013 was not a good year for dolphins, and a new tally from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) shows it was a sad year for another marine mammal as well.

The FWC documented 829 manatee deaths in 2013, marking the first time the mortality number has been over 800 since the agency began keeping records in the 1970s.

Two hundred seventy-six of those deaths were caused by red tide, which releases a toxin that affects manatees' nervous systems, while 72 others were the result of watercraft-related incidents, the agency reports. In spring the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared an unusual mortality event following the deaths of over 100 manatees in Brevard County.

One concerned voice opined in the Palm Beach Post:

Nature presents a big challenge for manatees when tropical weather turns cold. But pollution, destruction of its food source and habitat, toxic algae, injuries and deaths from boat collisions all link to the same source.

The homely, slow-moving manatee has a single predator, a deadly one: Us.

Manatees are an endangered species, with about 5,000 of them floating around Florida waters.


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