Manatee deaths on rise

Manatee
- Cindy Lane | Sun

Florida manatee deaths rose to 527 in 2017, seven more than last year and 24 more than the 10-year average of 503, according to statistics released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

A decade of manatee deaths in Florida

2008 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 337

2009 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 429

2010 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  766

2011 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  453

2012 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  392

2013 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  830

2014 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  371

2015 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  405

2016 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  520

2017 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  527

Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife

Conservation Commission

About 20 percent were killed by watercraft collisions, with another 20 percent perishing just before or after birth (perinatal), followed by death from natural causes, cold stress, human interactions other than watercraft and entrapment in flood gates or canal locks. Most manatee deaths were of undetermined cause.

In Manatee County, 20 deaths were recorded, including five from watercraft, seven listed as natural causes, five perinatal, two undetermined and one unrecovered. Not included in the wild manatee count was Snooty, Manatee County’s official mascot, who died in captivity at the South Florida Museum after swimming through an opening revealed by a dislodged access panel and becoming trapped in a small maintenance area.

The highest statewide death count in the past decade was in 2013, during which 830 manatees died in Florida waters.

Manatees were downlisted this year from endangered to the less serious threatened status by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

If you see a manatee in distress or a dead manatee, call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline, 888-404-3922 (FWCC), #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone, or text [email protected] Report the location of the animal, its signs of injury or distress, the nearest boat ramp and your contact information.

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