STUART, Fla. (WFLA/AP) — More manatees have died already this year than in any other year in Florida’s recorded history, primarily from starvation due to the loss of seagrass beds.
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission reported that 841 manatee deaths were recorded between Jan. 1 through July 2. According to its report, 87 manatee deaths have been reported in the Tampa Bay Area, a rise of 11 deaths since our previous report on the matter.
Below are the deaths broken down in the Tampa Bay counties:
- Hillsborough — 24
- Pinellas — 26
- Sarasota — 7
- Citrus —19
- Manatee — 10
- Pasco — 1
That breaks the previous record of 830 that died in 2013 because of an outbreak of toxic red tide. More than half the deaths have died in the Indian River Lagoon and its surrounding areas in Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties.
Some biologists believe water pollution is killing the seagrass beds in the area.