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2022 was second-worst in manatee deaths, Florida wildlife agency says

The vast majority of manatee deaths have been in the Indian River Lagoon, a biologically diverse east coast estuary that has been plagued with water quality problems and widespread seagrass losses. Photo courtesy the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
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The vast majority of manatee deaths have been in the Indian River Lagoon, a biologically diverse east coast estuary that has been plagued with water quality problems and widespread seagrass losses.

Last year was the second-worst ever when it comes to manatee deaths in Florida.

Some 800 mortalities were recorded in 2022.

At the heart of the die-off are ongoing water quality problems and seagrass losses in the Indian River Lagoon, a crucial manatee habitat.

Chronic starvation and malnutrition among manatees in the lagoon prompted wildlife agencies to take the unprecedented step of providing supplemental lettuce in Brevard County.

Nonetheless, the vast majority of deaths were in Brevard at 346. Lee County in southwest Florida came in second with 82 deaths.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the statewide number is above the five-year annual average but below the record of 1,100 manatee deaths in 2021.

The mortalities also were attributed to boat strikes.

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 work has been heard on NPR and seen in PEOPLE, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, among many other publications. She began her career at The Associated Press in Nashville, Tenn. Amy grew up in Florida and lives in Orlando with her 7-year-old daughter.
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