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Shocking Fatality Rates of the Florida Manatee

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A calf with her mom under a boat at Silver Springs SP

A calf with her mom under a boat at Silver Springs SP

The Manatee. Florida's protected native fresh water creature that resembles a big Walrus or Sea Cow. They prefer fresh water but will be found in brackish waters in rivers and shorelines of Florida. They are docile and harmless feeding on crabs, mussels, sea grass. If you startle one, they do have the power to knock you off a kayak or SUP. The most popular places to see them is at Weeki Wachee State Park or Silver Springs State Park, but they can be found all over Florida.

However, there are only an estimated 8,800 of them or so. Even when a species is on the Endangered Species Protected list, this alone will not protect them. Climate change, pollution, has caused many animals to become endangered and the Manatee is no different.

In previous years, the annual death rate from all caused to the Manatee is around 800 or so, but the catastrophic losses in 2021 is a harbinger of things to come. In just six months, the death rate is already at 850. Pollution as destroyed a majority of seagrass grazing areas, which is a major food supply source for them, Over irrigation and fertilizers have made these areas filled with algal blooms similar to Florida's horrible Red Tide. Climate change impacts us all in different ways. For the Manatee, the past winter was actually colder than normal and the waters became much colder to them. A Manatee does not water temps to drop below 68 degrees, and when it does, they seek much warmer spring water.

Manatees this past winter over grazed some areas and over populated some areas seeking refuge. This put a strain on the environment. Many of them simply starved to death for lack of food in the area they went to. But algal blooms caused by excessive use of fertilizer is destroying their grazing areas and for humans, the Red Tide, is harmful to breath and caused tons of fish to die for lack of oxygen.

Perhaps the killing off of 10% of the total Manatee population is just an anomaly in just six months, but if at the end of 2021, this 800 is 1600, alarm bells should go off to those responsible for overuse of fertilizers and that climate change is for real.


perrya (author) on July 12, 2021:

No, had not heard about the scallops, it sounds incredible. But, the poor west coast is really getting heat and fires already

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Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 12, 2021:

That is so sad about the deaths of the manatees. Did you hear about the scallops on the west coast dying because of the excess heat? They literally cooked on those rocks on which they were attached. I think that our planet is under threat due to many things. We need to wake up and realize that our actions do have consequences.

Liz Westwood from UK on July 12, 2021:

This has made the news feeds in the UK today. I hope the trend can somehow be reversed.

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