*The video above was provided by FWC of manatees feeding at the Temporarily Field Response Station last week

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – As temperatures continue to stay cool throughout the state, manatees are gathering in large numbers at many warm water sites, including the temporary, supplemental feeding site in Brevard County where researchers are studying them during the ongoing Unusual Mortality Event for the animal.

With cooler temperatures, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) staff are seeing a rise in the number of dead manatees. As of Jan. 21, according to a preliminary report by FWC, 47 manatees have died in the state in 2022.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, staff estimated there were almost 400 manatees in the supplemental feeding area at the Temporary Field Response Station at the Florida Power and Light facility.

“Because this trial effort is a management action that has not been attempted before, we do not know how much vegetation individual manatees will consume. One of the goals of this action is to reduce manatee mortality. It will not eliminate it,” FWC said in its weekly update.

Last week at the site, staff noticed manatees feeding on provided lettuce for the first time.

“While this is an encouraging step, we do not yet know if this behavior will continue,” the FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute said in a Facebook post. “Our expert staff are continuing to provide food, monitor manatees onsite and are assisting and responding to manatees affected by the Unusual Mortality Event along the Atlantic coast.”

The team at the station, a joint effort between FWC and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, will continue to place food in PVC feeding corrals and submerged feeders.

“Necropsy teams are investigating manatee health through sampling of select carcasses. The majority of manatee carcasses continue to be in the East Central and Southeast Florida regions,” it said.

To report sick, distressed or dead manatees, call FWC at 888-404-3922. Cell phone users can also dial #FWC or *FWC.