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Florida manatees are having a better year, but their outlook remains grave

manatee swimming
Wilfredo Lee
A manatee comes up for air is it swims in the Stranahan River in Fort Lauderdale, FL on April 2, 2020.

There have not been as many Florida manatees dying this year.  But the iconic sea cows remain in trouble.

Manatee deaths are down some 26 percent compared with the end of June last year. Wildlife officials say that’s because of a milder winter and possibly a smaller population.

But Martine de Wit of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the animals continue to suffer from severe malnutrition and then starvation. “It’s going to have chronic health effects and reproductive effects, and it’s going to be years before you can measure the real extent of what is happening right now.” 

The main problem lies in the Indian River Lagoon, where widespread pollution has led to seagrass losses, leaving the animals without their main source of food. 

Copyright 2022 WMFE. To see more, visit WMFE.

Amy Green