STUART (CBSMiami/AP) — In just the first six months of 2021, more manatees have died than in any other year in Florida’s recorded history.
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission reported that 841 manatee deaths were recorded between Jan. 1 and July 2, breaking the previous record of 830 that died in 2013 because of an outbreak of toxic red tide.READ MORE: Homegoing Celebration, Funeral Tuesday For Congresswoman Carrie Meek
The TCPalm website reports that more than half the deaths have died in the Indian River Lagoon and its surrounding areas in Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties. The overwhelming majority of deaths have been in Brevard, where 312 manatees have perished.
Some biologists believe water pollution is killing the seagrass beds in the area.
“Unprecedented manatee mortality due to starvation was documented on the Atlantic coast this past winter and spring,” Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute wrote as it announced the record Friday. “Most deaths occurred during the colder months when manatees migrated to and through the Indian River Lagoon, where the majority of seagrass has died off.”READ MORE: Two Students Arrested For Posting Social Media Threats Aimed At Local Schools
Boat strikes are also a major cause of manatee deaths, killing at least 63 this year.
The manatee was once classified as endangered by the federal government, but it was reclassified as threatened in 2017. Environmentalists are asking that the animal again be considered endangered.
The federal government says approximately 6,300 manatees live in Florida waters, up from about 1,300 in the early 1990s.MORE NEWS: Dolphins Hit Their Bye Week, Some Aren't Eager To Stop
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