Manatee Deaths Break Record With Two Months Left to Go in Year
As of this week, the number of manatees killed in 2013 has hit 769, according to records kept by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg. That means more than 15 percent of the estimated population of about 5,000 has already been killed, and as the year goes on the total will continue to climb. This time the big die-off has been blamed on a massive Red Tide algae bloom in southwest Florida — which caused 276 deaths total — and a mysterious ailment that has been killing manatees in the Indian River Lagoon on the state's east coast — 116 as of last week, according to Kevin Baxter of the state's wildlife biology lab.
With two months left in 2013, manatee deaths have already broken the record set three years ago. Boaters are not to blame - in fact, the number of manatee deaths from being hit by boats are down.