TARPON SPRINGS, Fla. (WFLA) — Clearwater Marine Aquarium is announcing the creation of a manatee rehabilitation center. It comes at a time of need as manatee deaths reach an all-time yearly high in Florida.
Approximately 850 manatees have died in Florida so far this year, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. That’s 20 more deaths than the previous record of 830 set in 2013.
On Florida’s east coast, manatee mortalities are higher than ever, with many dying from starvation due to dying seagrass. To make matters worse, the red tide crisis in Tampa Bay is raising new health concerns for these mammals. As their population dwindles, there are growing calls to help save the manatees, but the combined issues are causing capacity shortages in manatee rehab centers across the United States.
In Florida, there are currently five facilities that treat sick, injured, or orphaned manatees, including ZooTampa and Seaworld in Orlando.
With the influx of manatees in critical need, CMA’s new rehab center was created.
The aquarium is expected to release more details about their new center at an11 a.m. press conference at their center in Tarpon Springs.