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Florida manatees are having a better year, but their outlook remains grave

Many rescued manatees have gone to SeaWorld in Orlando, like these in a theme park lagoon. Photo by Amy Green

There have not been as many Florida manatees dying this year.  

But the iconic sea cows remain in trouble.

Manatee deaths are down some 26 percent compared with the end of June last year. Wildlife officials say that’s because of a milder winter and possibly a smaller population.

But Martine deWit of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the animals continue to suffer from severe malnutrition and then starvation.   

“It’s going to have chronic health effects and reproductive effects, and it’s going to be years before you can measure the real extent of what is happening right now.” 

The main problem lies in the Indian River Lagoon, where widespread pollution has led to seagrass losses, leaving the animals without their main source of food. 

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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 »