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North Fort Myers marina neighbors upset dead manatee left to rot near homes

An investigation is underway Monday after a dead manatee was found rotting away near Paradise Marina in North Fort Myers. Neighbors say the aquatic mammal turned up dead more than a week ago and remains near them, as well as a foul odor.

“It’s still sitting here, and it’s covered with dirt and … it still stinks,” said Jeff Berry, a Paradise Marina resident. “The smell is unbearable.”

Berry says he reported the dead manatee to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission when they first found it.

“They said they couldn’t come on the land because of the coronavirus,” Berry said. “They couldn’t have more than two people working.”

The stench lingers as people walk down a path near the water wear the deceased manatee remains, and swarms of flies are also present.

“You’ve got almost 1,000 pounds of rotting flesh out here in the water,” said Douglas Juergens, a Paradise Marina resident. “If the wind blows this way, you get the smell. But, if it doesn’t blow this way, none at all.”

Dozens of community members have tried to control the smell of the manatee near the shoreline for over a week,

The managers of the Paradise Marina property came out as you can see and put dirt on top of it, but it’s still rotting underneath.

An FWC spokesperson told us they usually leave the wildlife to naturally decompose. And some liveaboard neighbors are OK keeping their distance from the rotting sea creature and understanding of the policies being followed by FWC.

“I’m not frustrated,” Berry said. “They have a big job, and I’m sure they get calls every day.”

Still, Berry and other neighbors wish the manatee had been removed.

“They should have done it 10 days ago when it was still fresh,” Berry said. “And they could have pulled it out of here. But No. They let it sit here for over 10 days and rot, and now it’s so mushy you’re not going to be able to do anything with it.

Reporter:Taylor Petras
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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