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Grim milestone: More than 1,000 manatees dead in Florida waters

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

A record die-off of manatees this year in Florida waters has surpassed a grim milestone. 

More than 1,000 of the iconic sea cows have died. 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports 1,003 manatees have died through Nov. 12. 

The number represents more than 10% of the animal’s population in the state and is nearly double the five-year annual mortality average. 

The previous record was 830 deaths in 2013. 

This year’s die-off began in the Indian River Lagoon, where ongoing water quality problems and widespread seagrass losses have left manatees starving. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service downlisted the manatee in 2017 from endangered to threatened. A bill in Congress would restore the animal’s endangered status. 


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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 »