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Ailing manatees benefit from warm weather, outpouring of donations and support

Two orphaned calves ended up at a SeaWorld rehabilitation center, where they faced a long recovery. Photo by Amy Green

Florida wildlife authorities say the Indian River Lagoon’s ailing manatees are benefitting from recent warm weather. 

They say they are ready to start supplemental feedings as soon as the iconic sea cows show any signs of cold stress. 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission got an update at their regular meeting on this year’s record die-off of manatees in the state, especially the Indian River Lagoon. 

FWC’s Gil McRae told the commissioners wildlife authorities are taking special care to prevent manatees from associating humans with food. 

“The feed will be enclosed in floating PVC squares. It will allow us to control where the feed goes. And also at the end of the day, typically we’d feed in the morning, assess how much of that feed has been taken.” 

The supplemental feedings will take place at the Cape Canaveral power plant. It is illegal for individuals to feed manatees. More than 1,000 manatees have died this year in Florida.

Larry Williams of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told the commissioners the plight of the state’s manatees is generating an outpouring of donations and support. 

“A lot of the farming operations are donating food, and people are willing to donate all sorts of resources. And I think that’s a signal of how much people care, and how much they want to help.” 

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Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

Amy Green covers the environment and climate change at WMFE News. She is an award-winning journalist and author whose extensive reporting on the Everglades is featured in the book MOVING WATER, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and podcast DRAINED, available wherever you get your podcasts. Amy’s ... Read Full Bio »