2018 could be bad year for manatees, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility says

There's a troubling trend when it comes to manatees and one group fears this year could be the worst ever.

At Lake Park Marina, Jim Abernethy it noticing the trend.

"Very difficult for manatees to survive," said Abernethy.

According to the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, 166 manatees have died so far this year.

Cold weather is to blame for 51.

Boating accidents and also water quality issues are playing a factor as well.

"Losing its habitat," said Dr. Brian Lapointe, a researcher at FAU Harbor Branch.

He says algal blooms are killing seagrass and ultimately manatees.

"Serious habitat loss of its primary food source, so it's now eating these red algae that are covering the bottom part of the lagoon," said Lapointe.

As for boating accidents, an FAU researcher is working on an alarm that could alert manatees of an approaching boat.

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