Feeding program to resume for Florida manatees

Michelle Pasawicz, manatee management program lead with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, places heads of lettuce to feed manatees in a canal last February. Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission

Wildlife officials plan to resume an experimental feeding program for Florida manatees this winter. The mammals are struggling with a die-off of the seagrass beds they depend on for food in the winter in Florida. Last year, biologists set out about 202,000 pounds of lettuce in the warm waters near a power plant near Cape Canaveral where the manatees (Trichechus manatus) gather in cold winter months.

“It worked really well last year. We will continue at that site,” Ron Mezich of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told the Associated Press. “We hope this is never a permanent situation. We don’t want to have to feed wild populations.”

The program was launched in response to a record 1,100 manatees dying in 2021, mostly from starvation.

Read more from the Associated Press.