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Report starving manatees, but don't feed them

Posted at 8:27 AM, Dec 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-23 08:27:39-05

Marine experts are sounding the alarm as more and more manatees are dying in our waterways.

So far this year over 1,060 have died and people with Save the Manatees Club predict that number to get higher before the end of the year.

Patrick Rose, the Executive Director and Aquatic Biologist with Save the Manatees Club, says that death number has never been that high before in a year.

"It's not over yet and there's an awful lot yet to do and that's where people can encourage their local governments the state of florida as well as the epa the fish nd wildlife services to hold strong and make a difference. It's really bad but we need to make it better and we need to take care of these manatees that have been put in these predicaments cause we have not controlled our own human waste," said Rose.

This is the first year they're seeing manatees dying of starvation. Still though they're urging people not to feed these animals. By feeding them you may be harming them.

Rose says disrupts their natural migration patterns and keeps them in areas where there isn't a lot of sea grass and other food they need to survive.

Throwing food into the water can also contribute to algae blooms that have played a role in the loss of sea grass throughout the Indian River Lagoon.

"There's way too much nutrient going in now so we rather not have more go in and we don't know the quality of that food either and whether it could cause other harm to manatees. but just keeping them in an area that they shouldn't be in or exposing them to other people with bad intentions is a really good reason not to do it. and in this case we do believe it has to happen in the northern Indian River Lagoon but let the experts handle it," says Rose.

Save the Manatees Club says entire areas like the Indian River Lagoon have experienced loss of sea grass which are key in a manatee's diet. But in northern Indian River Lagoon, it's crisis mode and has lost about 97% of it's biomass.

Earlier this month the Save the Manatee Club announced they're teaming up with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to step in and help feed any manatee that's in crisis.

The Club is asking residents to watch for and report malnourished manatees. Malnourished manatees may have visible ribs, a sunken area behind their head, seem unable to keep their balance, and breathe more rapidly. A lone manatee calf with no adults around may be an orphan and is also of concern.

The Club is also asking residents to donate to the Emergency Rescue Fund. Rescues of sick or injured manatees or orphaned calves are always necessary, but many more are anticipated this winter due to this starvation crisis.

Contributions to Save the Manatee Club’s Emergency Rescue Fund will support rescues of vulnerable manatees, assist with care during rehabilitation, and aid with their release into the wild in partnership with the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership. It will also provide food for rehabilitating manatees where and when needed.

To donate, click here.

The Save the Manatee Club is also working on litigation and has teamed up with two other national organizations to give a notice of intent to sue the environmental protection agency regarding to the water quality problems in the Indian River Lagoon and loss of habitat affecting the manatees.