Tag Archives: starving manatees

The Hard Numbers-A Hard Future, Manatees

Crystal River, Credit: Paul Nicklen/National Geographic 2013.I

Slide from “Manatee UME on the Florida Atlantic Coast 2020-2021” -Martine de Wit, DVM

I wanted to share today’post because I have recently been exposed to this inofrmation. Most of it is very disturbing, and unfortunately, it is going to get even more so. We have to prepare. We have to decide. As winter approaches, we are going to have to face some hard choices about manatees.

As we all know, Florida’s manatee’s are in the middle of a UME or Unusual Mortality Event. It has been documented by FWC that most deaths are due to starvation as the seagrass meadows of the 156 mile long Indian River Lagoon are dead, dying, or in poor condition, due to poor water quality, algae blooms, discharges (S.IRL) , and thus lack of sunlight. The Florida Wildlife Commission’s 2021 numbers are displayed in the chart below and more information can be found here. 

This August, Martine de Wit, DVM, presented a power point to the Management Board of the Indian River Lagoon Council. It is heartbreaking but should be seen by all.

Manatee Unusual Mortality Event  on the Florida Atlantic Coast December 2020 July 2021 UME_IRLNEP_STEM_10Aug212

The bottom line is: this winter the migrating manatees will have site fidelity (like elephants) to the four power plants along the IRL. In the past, as many as 2500  have stayed true to the warm waters near Cape Canaveral’s power plant in the northern central IRL. The question is, not who will come this year, it’s just how many. These manatees will be warm but there are no longer historic seagrass beds to eat. In spite of this, they will stay and put being warm first. Since we know there is no seagrass and since we know they will gather in their known warm waters, should we try to feed them or relocate them/something not supported in the past…

What do you think?