The manatee deaths so far for 2022 have reached another grim milestone.
Looking at the numbers now and comparing them to last year’s record-breaking number of deaths reaching over one thousand -- we’re not far behind.
News4JAX Meteorologist Danielle Uliano spoke with a local expert on how this year’s numbers compare to past years thus far.
So far in 2022 there have been 515 deaths reported by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. That’s roughly 100 fewer deaths than this point in April last year, but still above the 5-year average.
“Well, it’s a very severe blow on top of a catastrophic loss of last year, if you look at the east coast of Florida that’s where the mortality is happening,” Patrick Rose, Aquatic Biologist and Executive Director for Save the Manatees, said.
Last year there was a reported 1,101 deaths by the FWC, with the largest number of deaths in Brevard County due to a lack of seagrass.
“The big one is starvation and last year was the first time we’ve experienced that level of starvation in any form and it’s been repeated over this year,” Rose said.
We asked Rose why we are seeing a lack of seagrass growth and what is aiding the algae bloom.
“We’ve had decades of too much nutrient pollution coming from human waste that’s leaking from the groundwater from our septic tanks,” Rose said.
As a community, there are ways we can contribute and help. When it comes to seagrass if you live on the water pay attention to the types of fertilizer you use. Fertilizing right before it rains can cause runoff into the water
When it comes to boating, wearing polarized sunglasses can help spot manatees and pay attention to the slow-speed zones. And finally, report a sick and injured manatee right away to the FWC.
This past winter the FWC did perform its first feeding program to help the starving manatees and although it did help it did not eliminate the problem researchers are looking into more programs to help next winter.
It’s important to remember to report a manatee you think may be injured or sick to the FWC by calling the toll-free number 1-888-404-3922.