A young manatee was found dead in Venice over the weekend, and police are blaming it on red tide.
Mater Police Officer Paul Joyce of the Venice Police Marine Unit found the manatee on Saturday. Police say it’s “another tragic incident caused by the long-lasting red tide that has raised havoc on the waters of the Venice area and Sarasota County.”
After removing the manatee from the water, police took it to a nearby boat ramp so FWC biologists could take it back to their lab for testing.
Venice police say this year has been bad for manatee deaths due to red tide. FWC data shows there were 67 total manatee deaths related to red tide in all of 2017. As of July 27, FWC data shows 80 manatee deaths related to red tide in 2018. Police say the updated number is higher now, but not available at this time.
As red tide continues to plague the area, police are asking boaters to be more cautious on the water and keep a close eye out for marine life.
“Manatees are more likely to be closer to the surface of the water while they try to breathe,” Officer Joyce explained. “Plus with our waters very dark and brackish, it makes it that much more difficult to see a manatee.”
If you’re out on the water and see a manatee, sea turtle or dolphin either dead or in distress, you should call your local marine authority or report it to FWC at 888-404-3922.