Skip to main content

Wild Manatees Are Dying, and Wildlife Officials See No Option but to Feed Them

Florida_Manatee_FWS_26

In a controversial move, the state of Florida and the federal government plan to feed endangered wild manatees to counter a spike in deaths caused by a dramatic loss of the sea mammals’ natural food supply.

Florida’s manatees have suffered record losses in 2021 with already more than 1,000 known deaths. As of 2016, state officials said there were about 8,800 manatees in Florida’s waters.

Malnourishment due to the loss of sea grass in the Indian River Lagoon, where many manatees winter, is considered a major cause of the record-breaking death count. The sea grass was killed off by algae blooms fueled largely by human waste and fertilizer runoff from lawns and farms. Since 2011, 90 percent of the sea grass has died off.

Federal and state wildlife officials plan to provide food, including cabbage and lettuce, to stave off more deaths. “We hope they will take it,” said Patrick Rose, the executive director of Save the Manatee Club, a nonprofit group that pushed for the supplemental feeding. “There’s no guarantee.”

Even though feeding wildlife can disrupt migration patterns, spread disease, and may cause manatees to approach boats for food—boat strikes are another major cause of manatee deaths—officials feel they don’t have a choice.

“This unprecedented event is worth unprecedented actions,” said Thomas Eason, assistant executive director of Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, at a news conference on Wednesday.

Related

5514927604_2594258360_o

A Record 1,101 Florida Manatees died in 2021

At least 100 deaths were due to watercraft injury. Here’s what boaters can do to help prevent manatee deaths

Screen_Shot_2020_02_26_at_12.04.53_PM.5e56a55a3f7bc

A Tampa Bay charter captain gets in deep water after a video shows him scraping a manatee with a fishing pole.

A Tampa Bay charter captain gets in deep water after a video shows him scraping a manatee with a fishing pole.

BYSTANDER-Andrew-Batson-Lyman-Morse-DSC_0005sm

Flotsam & Jetsam: No Ordinary Bystander

Modern tenders might be outfitted with 1200 or more horsepower and be capable of speeds of 50 knots or more.

Screen Shot 2021-10-04 at 11.59.22 AM

How They Feed the Fish at the Aquarium

Preparing food for the animals at the nation’s oldest public marine aquarium is a gooey and entertaining process.

iStock-696273514

12 Boating Safety Tips for Memorial Day Weekend and Beyond

With the waters more crowded than ever, and 415,000 people having purchased their first boat in 2020, these tips can help everyone stay safe

Kill_Switch_&_Lanyard_2000_x_2000-1

USCG Announces New Engine Cut-off Switch Law

As of April 1, 2021, operators of recreational vessels under 26 feet will be required to use an engine cut-off switch link under certain circumstances

Axopar-37-SC_R7A5710fix_1800

No Excuses

A cruise aboard the Axopar 37 shows this seaworthy sport cruiser is true to its rugged Baltic Sea heritage.

MicrosoftTeams-image-28-1536x1024

Are Diesel Outboards Catching On?

Cox Powertrain has installed twin 300-hp outboard diesels on an Axopar 37 and a new Finnish builder will exclusively use triple OXE 300-hp diesel outboards on its cruisers