An “unprecedented” number of manatees have died along the US Atlantic coast during the first half of this year, according to a new report from the Florida Wildlife Commission.
The preliminary report shows thet 842 manatees have died between January 1st and July 2nd.
Most of the deaths took place during the colder months of the year, when manatees migrated to and through the Indian River Lagoon where the majority of seagrass has died off, according to the report.
The report states:
“Because of the large number of manatee deaths documented in this Atlantic event, the preliminary statewide mortality number for the first half of 2021 has surpassed the previous highest annual statewide number of 830 mortalities from 2013.”
Once water temperatures began to climb and manatees spread out along the coast, the institute found fewer manatee carcasses or ones that needed rescuing.
“The recurrence of watercraft- related mortality as the leading cause of death in manatees necropsied in the Atlantic region in June, consistent with similar observations on the Gulf coast, underscores the need for previously identified threats such as watercraft-related mortality to continue to be recognized as a concern for the population. In addition, the long-term health effects of prolonged starvation in manatees that survived the Atlantic event to this point are not yet known. FWC remains committed to monitor and investigate manatee health, respond to manatees in need of rescue, and implement science-based conservation measures that protect FWC remains committed to monitor and investigate manatees and their habitat.”
For more info on exactly where the manatees died, check out the commission’s website.