Starvation and other issues have led to an abnormally high number of manatee deaths in Florida in the southeastern United States. 841 of them were found dead in coastal waters in the first 6 months of 2021. The manatee death recorded has been the scarce availability of seagrass beds that sustain the manatees. Another reason that they are dying in alarming numbers is due to rising levels of water pollution.
Florida’s waterways are primarily to blame, said biologists. The spike in water contamination leads to algae accumulation and the scarcity of seagrass.
Researchers at the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in Florida say that one of the main reasons for the Manatee death record was their migration to the Indian River Lagoon in the winter months. Most seagrass present in these waters has died out.
Manatee Death Record Also Caused By Boat Accidents
Another reason for the Manatee death record was accidents. Warmer temperatures in the spring led to the manatees dispersing across the coast and that led to frequent collisions with boats and ships. 63 manatees, or sea cows as they are commonly known, have been killed in 2021 after being struck by speeding boats.
Boat strikes still remain a major reason for the tragically high figure of manatee fatalities. A change in the grading of the sea-cows in 2017 from an endangered species to that of the threatened has not made much difference to the high number of accidents and starvation that has killed the manatees.
The manatees are gentle slow-moving animals and are considered Florida’s unofficial mascot. Around 6,300 of them are found in the coastal waters of Florida.
Conservationists say that not much is being done to protect them and restore their living and feeding conditions. It is only recently that lawmakers have teamed up with marine conservationists and biologists to ascertain the cause of a large number of manatee deaths and make arrangements.
The declaration of the Unusual Mortality Event by wildlife officials in March this year will enable the Federal administration to look into the reasons for the spike in the manatee death record and take measures to prevent their repeated occurrence.
Concerned local conservationists and environmental groups along with local businesses have urged Ron DeSantis, the Republican Governor to announce an immediate state of emergency that could tackle the unnaturally high death figures of the gentle sea cows. Environmental officials in Florida say that they have already undertaken measures to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents.