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The Villages
Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Death of more than 1,000 manatees this year spurs response from officials

More than 1,000 manatees – more than 10 percent of Florida’s estimated manatee population — have died since the start of 2021.

The death of 1,003 manatees since Nov. 17, 2020 has spurred a joint response from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The two agencies continue to investigate a high level of manatee mortalities and respond to manatee rescues along the Atlantic coast of Florida. Responding to live manatees in need of rescue remains a top priority for wildlife agencies and partners from the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership. FWC manatee biologists have been working hard to respond to public reports of distressed manatees and rescue manatees that need assistance (preliminary rescue summaries). 

The Working Group on Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Events has confirmed these manatee mortalities have met the criteria to be an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declared it an UME.

Environmental conditions in portions of the Indian River Lagoon remain a concern. Preliminary information indicates that a reduction in food availability, seagrass, is the primary cause of the manatee deaths.

People can help manatee conservation by reporting injured, distressed or dead manatees to the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at (888) 404-3922.

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