STUART, Fla. — The City of Stuart is pushing to put manatees back on the endangered species list.
"Our whole point of advocating for this is so that the maximum federal protections available under the ESA which is the endangered species act," said Ben Hogarth, Public Information Officer at the City of Stuart.
2021 has proved to be a difficult year for mammals.
According to data from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 811 manatees have died in just six months across the state.
Only 59 have been linked to boats.
"What we're seeing is that more natural reasons for death and what that could be, could be cold water, it could be emaciation and starvation," said Hogarth.
The average number of deaths per year for the last five years is 326.
"I will link manatee deaths right back to what we do on land along the IRL and that goes for Martin, St Lucie, Indian, Brevard, Volusia counties, everybody," said Michael Conner, Indian River Keeper.
Conner, who runs the water advocacy group, blames fertilizer for killing the seagrass, causing the manatees to starve.
"It's becoming a macroalgae ecosystem where algae are so dominant," said Conner. "Algae are not a bad thing, they're natural but when they take over and become the dominant plants, there's a problem."