Manatee deaths are up, but pandemic put limits on necropsies

Florida

A manatee comes up for air is it swims in the Stranahan River, Thursday, April 2, 2020, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Florida is seeing slightly more than the average number of manatee deaths this year. But scientists don’t know the cause of some because necropsies were suspended during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.

In about a third of the 388 deaths, the bodies of the manatees were verified, not recovered. That’s because in April and May the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission suspended necropsies to keep staff socially distanced due to the coronavirus.

As spokeswoman Michelle Kerr told the Tampa Bay Times, “it takes several staff together to pick up a manatee carcass.”

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