Manatee
Manatee Credit: WINK News

More than 400 manatees have already been found dead across the state this year

It’s only March and this year already, more than 400 manatees across the state were found dead. More than half of them have not had a necropsy.

Cheri Kovalak found what she came for at Manatee Park. “I wanted to see the manatees. I have never seen one up close and personal,” she said.

Kovalak came from Ohio. “They’re fascinating. It’s amazing how slow they move and how laid back they are,” she said.

The same Florida manatees that people love to visit, face a big problem. “It’s sad. It’s a sad situation,” she said.

Preliminary information from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shows that in the first two months of 2021, at least 403 manatees died.

While less concerning reasons include watercrafts (14), the cold (39) and natural causes (29), 277 of them were not necropsied.

Patrick Rose is the Executive Director of the Save The Manatees Club. “Well, we started getting really concerned in December because they were really adding up pretty high,” Rose said.

Rose has his sights set on the Indian River Lagoon on Florida’s East Coast.

He says the cause is beneath the surface. “Between the loss of forage for manatees and sea grasses and the cold weather together, and manatees having to be in that cold weather or be at the warm powerplant and having to make a choice. They started having really strong malnutrition as well as cold stress combined,” Rose said.

FWC also points to the conditions in the Indian River Lagoon with food availability being a factor.

They say once manatees leave their winter habitats, as the water warms up, they should be able to find better habitats.

32 of the manatees died in Lee County during that two-month period. WINK News reached out to FWC to learn why a majority of manatees were not necropsied and is waiting to learn more.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Drew Hill
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