MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) -— Florida wildlife officials said the number of manatee deaths caused by watercraft could hit an all-time high in Florida this year.
From the beginning of this year through June 21, 81 manatees have been killed by watercraft in Florida’s waters.READ MORE: Scott Carr Selected As FIU’s New Athletic Director
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials say 59 manatees died during the same period in 2018.
Wildlife officials say toxic red tide and chilly temperatures contributed to the sea cow deaths in 2018, but so far in 2019 the biggest threat to manatees are boats.READ MORE: Homegoing Celebration, Funeral Service Set For Congresswoman Carrie Meek
The Save the Manatee Club says another reason may be because manatees were downlisted from endangered to threatened, which may cause people to think it’s safe to exhibit less caution while boating.
The Ocala Star-Banner reports a total of 300 manatees have been reported dead in Florida for the first half of the year.MORE NEWS: CBS4 Investigates: Hollywood Condo Building May Not Have Power Restored For Weeks
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)