841 manatee deaths recorded in the first half of 2021
Stuart, Florida — In the first half of 2021, more manatees have died than in any other year in Florida’s recorded history.
According to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, 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.
The overwhelming majority of deaths have been in Brevard, where 312 manatees have perished.
According to some biologists, 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.”
Boat strikes are also a major cause of manatee deaths, killing at least 63 this year.
According to the federal government says approximately 6,300 manatees live in Florida waters, up from about 1,300 in the early 1990s.