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Florida boaters killed record number of manatees in 2019

Florida

FILE- This Dec. 28, 2010 photos shows a group of manatees in a canal where discharge from a nearby Florida Power & Light plant warms the water in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Florida wildlife officials say 538 manatees were found dead in the state’s waterways in 2017. That’s the third-highest annual death toll on record for the large marine mammals. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

MIAMI (AP) — Florida boaters broke a record this year, killing more manatees in 2019 than in past years, according to wildlife officials.

Boaters hit and killed 129 manatees so far this year. That tops the previous record of 125 deaths last year. The five year average was 95 boat-related manatee deaths, according to preliminary data from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The leading cause of death last year for manatees was natural causes, which killed 230.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports 53 manatees died from cold weather this year.

Boating advocates have pushed back against go-slow speed zones, arguing the reason more are dying may be because there isn’t enough seagrass to feed them.

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