TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – There are currently 81 West Indian manatees in critical care or rehabilitation facilities across the country, according to a new update from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
FWC recently released an August update regarding the ongoing Unusual Mortality Event of manatees in Florida, specifically on the state’s Atlantic coast, in the Indian River Lagoon.
In the update, FWC said 66 of the 81 manatees are in facilities in Florida, two in Georgia, 12 in Ohio and one in Puerto Rico. FWC said all but 15 of the animals are considered releasable and will return to the wild after rehabilitation.
FWC said manatee carcass numbers have decreased, as manatees are no longer experiencing additional cold stress and have been able to move to areas were food is more available. Findings of malnutrition in manatees are still being documented. FWC said this is expected to continue while there is a seagrass shortage in the Indian River Lagoon.
Other threats, like watercraft-related injuries, remain a concern. Boaters are asked to wear polarized sunglasses to help spot manatees, avoid boating in shallow areas, be observant and to obey posted manatee zones.
As of Aug. 19, FWC reports a total of 667 manatees have died this year, as compared to 919 manatees dead at this time in 2021.
Sick, injured or dead manatees should be reported to FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.