JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – We’re a week into 2021, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has released its preliminary report for manatee deaths in the state during 2020.
The preliminary report stated that there were 619 manatee deaths around the state. Nine of those were in the county of Duval, one in Clay, four in Flagler, one in Nassau, 11 in Putnam and nine in St. Johns.
The Jacksonville Zoo is part of the Manatee Rescue & Rehabilitation Partnership, which includes zoos, aquariums, nonprofit organizations, and state and federal agencies. They have a critical care center that is one of four permitted rehabilitation facilities and has cared for 25 manatees since opening in 2017.
Throughout 2020, five manatees were cared for at the zoo and three were released. Their names were Crevasse, Marion and Lusia.
“We are still working with several of them. We have three in our care right now, all that came in last year,” said Dr. Yousuf Jafarery, a veterinarian at the Jacksonville Zoo.
Two of the three manatees in rehab were brought in as orphans and will hopefully be released this year.
“Most common cause of admittance to the critical care here has been cold stress in 2020,” said Jafarey.
The main cases seen in this area that go to the critical care center are boat strikes and cold stress.
RELATED: Full preliminary report from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Some boating tips for manatee safety:
- Slow down as much as possible during water activities
- Always follow posted speed signs
- Wear polarized sunglasses
- Stay in deep water channels and avoid shallow grassy areas
If you see an injured marine mammal, call the FWC hotline at 1-888-404-3922 or dial *FWC on a cellphone.