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A watchdog groups say Florida is on pace for another record year for manatee deaths.

Mark Scheiner/WUSF

Hurricane Irma impacted the entire Tampa Bay area. WUSF has reporters spread out across the region. This county-by-county breakdown will be updated continuously as the storm passes.

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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY

Michael Sechler (Facebook)

Two manatees were stranded after Hurricane Irma sucked the water out of Sarasota Bay, in Manatee County.

Hurricane Irma is having an impact on the entire Tampa Bay area. WUSF has reporters spread out across the region. This county-by-county breakdown will be updated continuously as the storm passes.

Wildlife officials say 520 manatees died in Florida last year, including a record 104 killed by boat strikes.

Lottie Watts / WUSF News

Florida's population of the iconic manatee has risen in recent years, so much so that federal  wildlife officials say they're no longer endangered, and could be down-listed to threatened by next year. 

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

To most Floridians, manatees are cute, docile creatures that hang out in crowded springs, and often get too close to boats -- or rather, boats get too close to them. But down on the other side of the Florida Straits, they sometimes end up on someone's dinner table.

WUSF's Steve Newborn recently tagged along with Dr. James “Buddy” Powell of Sea to Shore Alliance -- a Sarasota-based conservation group -- on an expedition to Cuba to find out how manatees are doing in the waters off the island.

They're large, even ungainly. But there may be no animal more beloved in Florida than the manatee.

Sorry, dolphins. It's the manatee that is the state's official marine mammal. But as manatees meander through Florida's shallow bays, rivers and canals, they often encounter people. And that's where problems arise.

The Senate Rules Committee on Monday narrowly approved a bill that could prohibit certain abortions now legal in Florida, sending the measure to the full Senate.

The committee supported, in a 6-5 party-line vote, a proposal (SB 918) by Miami Republican Sen. Anitere Flores that is intended to prevent abortions after fetuses reach the point of "viability." Flores said the bill won't hinder a woman's ability to get an abortion in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.