Florida sees record number of manatee deaths

Manatees have likely died due to starvation from the loss of seagrass beds. Credit: David Hinkel/USFWS

Starvation has driven a record number of manatee deaths in Florida in the first half of 2021. In the past six months, 841 West Indian manatees (Trichechus manatus) have died, due mostly to the loss of seagrass beds in the Indian River Lagoon and its surrounding areas, according to The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. Brevard County has recorded 312 manatee deaths alone in that time span. “Most deaths occurred during the colder months when manatees migrated to and through the Indian River Lagoon, where the majority of seagrass has died off,” Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute wrote in an announcement. Some scientists believe that pollution is killing the seagrass that manatees depend on for sustenance. Boat strikes have also killed 63 manatees in the first six months of this year.

Read more at The Associated Press via NPR.