State, federal government try to feed lettuce to manatees after year of high deaths

A tough year for manatees is nearing an end. It’s been the deadliest year on record for manatees and now cooler temperatures could put them at even greater risk.

The high number of deaths is, in part, due to seagrass die-off and pollution. State and federal agencies are trying to help the sea cows by bending the rules and feeding them lettuce.

They are doing it near FPL’s Clean Energy Center in Brevard County but there’s a problem.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission posted saying its team is not seeing a lot of sea cows and the manatees have been uninterested so far.

“It’s way too early to judge whether this would be successful or not,” said Patrick Rose, executive director of the Save the Manatee Club.

Rose believes with higher temperatures, the manatees don’t need the warm refuge of the power plant and can find food elsewhere.

“The idea is that then they would have food that would be presented to them by the Fish Wildlife Commission and hopefully that will allow those animals that are malnourished to have enough food to make it through the winter until things warm up,” Rose said. “So this is one little way to help them get through the most, worst, the worst of the situation this winter, but we’ve got a lot more to do to restore that ecosystem.”

While they wait for manatees to visit, the FWC said they continue to deploy floating PVC pipe corrals each day in the off-chance manatees visit and take an interest in the lettuce offered.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
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