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Florida breaks manatee death record in first six months of 2021

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A record number of manatees have died this year in the US state of Florida, primarily from starvation, wildlife authorities say.

At least 841 of the marine mammals died in waters near the eastern state between 1 January and 2 July.

That breaks the previous record set in 2013, when 830 manatees died after exposure to harmful algae.

This year biologists say seagrass beds manatees rely on for food are dying out because of rising water pollution.

They say the main issue is the increasing waste contamination of Florida’s waterways, which triggers the accumulation of algae and the loss of seagrass.

Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute said most of the deaths had happened during the colder months, when manatees migrated to the Indian River Lagoon, where most seagrass had died.

As temperatures warmed and the animals dispersed along the Atlantic coast, boat strikes became a leading cause of death last month, official data show.

At least 63 manatees, also known as sea cows, have been struck and killed by boats so far this year.

Boat strikes “continue to be recognised as a concern for the population”, the research institute said.

The federal government changed the status of the manatee from endangered to threatened in 2017, but conservationists say greater protection is again needed.

The manatee is a large, slow-moving mammal which has become an unofficial mascot for Florida. About 6,300 manatees currently live in Florida waters, according to the government.

In recent months, marine biologists and lawmakers in Florida have been paying close attention to the deaths of manatees.

In March, wildlife officials declared an Unusual Mortality Event, which allows the federal government to investigate the cause of the deaths in partnership with the state.

Last month a coalition of environmental groups and local businesses urged Republican Governor Ron DeSantis to declare a state of emergency to address the manatee crisis.

But state environment officials said such an order was unnecessary because they already had the necessary resources.

Courtesy of BBC News

589 #turtles, 824 #manatees, 127 #dolphins dead during past 16 months, due to red tide, in #Florida, #USA

Preliminary data from FWC showed that the 824 manatee deaths in 2018 from both red tide, sickness and human-related causes surpassed the previous record of 803 set during another red tide outbreak in 2013.

Because of the partial U.S. government shutdown, NOAA has not provided updates for dolphins on its UME website. Dolphin strandings spiked in August and November, but have begun to slow down as red tide shows signs of weakening along the Southwest Florida coast.

Few experienced the gruesome first-hand effects of red tide more than turtle patrol participants, who wore masks and scarves to check turtle crawls following hatching during nesting season, May through October.

Don MacAulay of Englewood said he felt the effects of the airborne toxins — a nearly 150-mile by 20-mile wide bloom at its peak — driving over the bridge to Manasota Key. His throat and eyes burned from the aerosolized red tide toxins carried miles by the sea spray.

The stench of the carnage hung on the summer humidity.

“We were wearing snorkel goggles and respirators to do the job,” said MacAulay, a volunteer since 2016. “It was just horrible. Everywhere you stepped, you couldn’t go down to the shoreline. It was lined all the way with dead fish. … The bugs were worse.”

Turtle patrollers — doctors, dentists, anglers, kayakers, teachers, outdoors people from all walks of life — donned military-grade gas masks or wore scarves over their face on mile-long walks to check for fresh turtle crawls. Later on, they cleared a path through piles of rotting fish to make way for hatchlings racing to the sea.

“The turtles barrel through the dead fish and still nest,” MacAulay said. “We had to go each day regardless of the stench and the toxins in the air. We tried to protect ourselves the best we could. It’s kind of extreme when you’re walking down the beach like you’re in chemical gear in a lab somewhere.”

MacAulay, and many others who signed on for the previously leisurely strolls to check nests — before sunrise and before beachgoers or tides could erase evidence of the crawls — didn’t quit the thankless job.

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48 manatees found dead in Tabasco, Mexico

16.11.18 Dead Manatees In Mexico

A combination of heat , drought and toxic algae contributed to the death of 48 manatees in the state of Tabasco, environmental authorities reported.

The activists had expressed concern that pesticides or leaks from oil wells had something to do with the death of seals resembling seals in that coastal entity in the Gulf of Mexico.

In a meeting of the committee formed to deal with the contingency related to the death of manatees, the members of each group made known the results of their work on monitoring of living organisms, necropsies and laboratory analysis, as well as the quality of water and verification of facilities of Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) and industry in the area.

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135 dead turtles, plus dolphins and manatees wash up since July in Sarasota, Florida, USA

28.08.18 Dead Dolphins In Florida, USA

Islander Courtesy Photo: Judy Titsworth

Except for murky water in the Gulf of Mexico, Aug. 21 looked like a normal beach day on Anna Maria Island.

Reports of respiratory irritation from humans had decreased from the week before and after the Manatee County beach tractor cleared the beach that morning, few dead fish washed ashore.

However, l2 hours later, the wind started blowing from the west-southwest, bringing high levels of Karenia brevis — the harmful algae bloom known as red tide — to the waters surrounding the island, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission red tide report.

The first bottlenose dolphin reported dead in Manatee County since red tide started drifting north toward the island the first week in August was found Aug. 21 on the beach near Sycamore Avenue in Anna Maria.

As of Aug. 22, 17 dolphins had died in the waters surrounding Sarasota County, according to Gretchen Lovewell, Mote Marine Laboratory stranding investigations program manager.

The adult male dolphin found in Anna Maria was reported to Mote’s stranding hotline and, soon after, representatives took the remains Aug. 22 to a lab for analysis, including brevitoxin levels — the toxin found in red tide.

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office deputies, arrived at the beach near Sycamore and assisted the Mote team with the dead dolphin, and also noticed a dead and decomposing sea turtle floating in the water about 40 feet from shore.

Mote representatives retrieved the turtle, a sub-adult female Kemps ridley, a species rarely found seen in the waters around Anna Maria Island.

“Nothing is unusual right now,” Lovewell said Aug. 22. She said loggerheads, greens, Kemps ridleys and even two hawksbills — which she said she had not previously seen in the nine years she’s been with Mote — were among the 135 sea turtles reported dead in Manatee and Sarasota counties since July 20 due to poisoning from red tide.

The Kemps ridley, along with a juvenile green sea turtle found dead in the water near the 1800 block of Gulf Drive North in Bradenton Beach at about the same time, were buried after collecting data, including notations on size and species.

The decomposed state of the dolphin indicated it had been dead for at least several days, said Lovewell. She added that researchers would take samples from its liver, kidneys and lung and check stomach contents to see what it had eaten.

The dolphin’s dorsal fin was missing, so it could not be checked for a freeze-brand — a method used by researchers with a Mote-Sarasota Bay dolphin study to brand and identify local dolphins. The study has been ongoing for some 40 years.

Lovewell said its hard to tell where the dolphin came from, since people have been reporting dead dolphins from as far as 16 miles offshore.

She said geneticists still could determine if the animal was related to the resident bottlenose dolphin community.

“We just try to do the best we can,” Lovewell said. “We are trying to learn as much as we can from all these guys so that we can help the ones that are still out there.”

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400 dead turtles and dolphins wash up since November in Florida, America

The number of dead manatees and sea turtles continues to climb as red tide strangles the life out of coastal Southwest Florida waters.

Bloom conditions started in November, and 400 stranded and dead sea turtles have been pulled from Lee, Collier, Charlotte and Sarasota county waters.

Lee County leads the way with 165 stranded and dead sea turtles. Collier accounted for 97 of those turtles.

A manatee that likely died due to red tide poisoning was retrieved from the Cape Coral Yacht Club on Tuesday while hundreds of residents and visitors were expressing their anger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at a meeting nearby.

More: Hundreds of sea turtles washing up dead on SWFL beaches; red tide likely killer

More: Army Corps of Engineers meets with Cape Coral residents about algae crisis

More: Red tide likely killed whale shark that washed up on Sanibel

More: Florida algae crisis: Four possible fixes for the Everglades algal blooms

“There was one dead female manatee,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Michelle Kerr. “The cause of death is not determined yet, but it was found in a location with high concentrations of red tide. There was speculation that the manatee had a baby, a calf with her. She did not. She was actually found in a mating herd.”

The FWC found the manatee, tied a rope to its tail and dragged it to the boat ramp before a truck hauling a trailer was lowered into the water to retrieve the carcass.

The red tide has been lingered along the coast since November and may persist into 2019 since it’s typically broken up by cold fronts.

It’s been centered mostly around Sanibel and northern Lee County waters but at times has reached from the Tampa Bay area to the Florida Keys.

Fish kills were cleaned up in Collier County on Tuesday as well.

Counts have ranged from natural background levels to 1 million cells per liter and higher.

Fish kills and breathing irritation in humans can start when counts reach 10,000 cells per liter, according to the FWC.

A report released by FWC Wednesday shows counts of 1 million cells per liter from Sarasota to Naples.

To the south, in Estero Bay, Florida Gulf Coast University marine researcher Bob Wasno lead a trip of 27 high school students and found varying conditions.

At first, he said, he was seeing baitfish and mullet — fish that had likely died days before and were being washed in with the tide.

Then he captained the boat to the south end of Lover’s Key State Park.

“There’s lots of dead everything here,” Wasno said. “I’m watching a sea trout die right at my feet. There’s mullet, snook, pinfish, seasnakes, small grouper, and there’s a lot of it. And it’s looking very, very fresh.”

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Mass die off of fish, birds, manatees, shark and other marine life due to red tide in Florida, USA

Florida’s southwest coast, a ribbon of inlets and barrier islands normally brimming with wildlife, has become a red tide slaughterhouse this summer.

Dead fish by the thousands have clogged inlets and canals. Since Sunday, 10 dead Goliath grouper, the massive reef fish that can live four decades or more, have floated to the surface. At least 90 sea turtles have been found stranded as the tide stretches well into nesting season. And Tuesday, as hundreds of residents packed a standing-room-only Cape Coral yacht club to hear about the federal government’s efforts to deal with water conditions, a dead manatee washed up at a nearby boat ramp.

The list goes on: earlier this month the carcass of a whale shark was found on a Sanibel beach with red tide in its muscles, liver, intestines and stomach. Hundreds of double-breasted cormorants, brown pelicans and other seabirds have been sickened or died.

Coupled with a massive blue-green algae bloom that spread across Lake Okeechobee and snaked down the Caloosahatchee River in June, the dire conditions have infuriated businesses and residents, and drawn national attention to the normally quiet tourist towns.

“This is horrific what we’re enduring now, but it needs to be a wake-up call to people that clean water is important to more than just wildlife,” said Heather Barron, a veterinarian and research director at Sanibel’s CROW Clinic wildlife rescue center, which began treating poisoned birds as early as October. “As the person dealing with all these hundreds of dying animals, I’m upset.”

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Hundreds of dead fish, manatees, sea turtles, eels and other marine life wash up in Boca Grande, Florida, USA

Charter boat captain Chris Oneill videotaped those dead manatees, Tuesday, and posted the video to his Facebook page. The video has since been viewed more than a million times and drawn attention to the area’s fish kills.

“I haven’t been able to fish for a week, since mid-last week, because fish started dying and we’re not going to take people out here and subject them to these conditions because there are potential health concerns as well,” Oneill said.

Hundreds of dead fish were crowding Boca Grande’s coastline. Maggots were seen eating the rotting fish, which were emitting a strong odor.

Oneill counted more than 40 endangered Goliath Groupers washed up on the beach this week, ranging from 10 pounds to 400 pounds.

“Black grouper, gag grouper, red grouper, trout, eel, puffer fish, everything you could imagine is right here in this weed line that’s washed up the last couple days,” he said as he pointed out the rotting fish.

Guests were also frustrated by the fish kills. The beach was mostly empty, Wednesday, with the exception of a couple of visitors who were checking out the dead fish for themselves.

“We’ve been hanging out at the pool because… look, there’s no one hanging out at the beach. It’s terrible,” said one visitor. “We have another family vacation planned without kids in August and we’re not sure we’re going to come. If there’s red ride, we’re definitely not coming.”

The fish kills come as the National Weather Service issued beach hazards statements for red tide for coastal northern Lee County and coastal Sarasota County.

Captain Oneill is not sure what is causing the red tide, but notes after Lake Okeechobee water releases, Southwest Florida’s coasts regularly have fish kills.

“I can’t put my finger on what exactly the problem is, but I can certainly tell you any time they dump that lake, and the discharge comes out of the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River, within a week we start seeing significant kills along our shorelines here in Southwest Florida,” he said. “It’s sad to see that so much death is happening. I’ve only been here 15 years, and year after year I see things like this. This is the worst I’ve seen, and I’ve yet to see anyone out here assessing the problem or trying to figure it out.”

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35 Manatees have died due to cold in Florida, USA

Last month’s unseasonably cold temperatures caused the deaths of 35 manatees across Florida, five times as many as last January, according to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Total manatee deaths, including those killed by boats, was 87, more than double last January.
January was the deadliest first month of any of the previous five years, the Miami Herald reported. The next highest month for cold stress deaths was January 2013, when 12 manatees died.
Four deaths were reported in Palm Beach County, according to the conservation commission’s “manatee mortality table.” On Jan. 11, a manatee was found dead in Lake Worth Lagoon in Boynton Beach as the result of a collision with a watercraft. On Jan. 17, a manatee died of cold stress in the Lake Worth Lagoon near Palm Beach Shores.
There were two Palm Beach County deaths on Jan. 23. A manatee died in a watercraft collision in the Intracoastal Waterway in Delray Beach, while a death in the Lake Worth Lagoon in North Palm Beach was considered “human related.”
There were also three reported deaths in Martin and one in St. Lucie in January, according to the conservation commission.
Most of the cold-releated deaths were in mid-January, when temperatures dropped into the 30s in some areas. Manatees can die if water temperatures fall below 68 for extended periods of time.
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UPDATE: 803 Manatees Have Washed Up Dead This Year In Florida, America

Lowry Park Zoo Manatee Hospital veterinary staff assess Cheer, a manatee in their care after exposure to Red Tide last spring, which is one of the main causes for this year’s deaths.

For the first time since records began being kept in Florida in the 1970s, the number of manatee deaths in a single year has topped 800, with two weeks remaining to the end of 2013.

Numbers released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg this week showed the number of dead manatees at 803 as of Dec. 13. That’s about 16 percent of the state’s estimated population of 5,000 manatees.

And 173 of the dead were breeding-age female manatees, Martine DeWit of the institute’s Marine Mammal Pathology Laboratory said Thursday.

Although it’s too soon to say how this will affect the future of the species, she said, “It must have an impact to lose these important breeding females.”

For comparison, last year’s total number of manatee deaths was 392, which is more in line with what’s normal.

The old record for manatee deaths, set in 2010, resulted from a lengthy cold snap that killed hundreds of manatees, pushing that year’s number of deaths to 766. That cold snap mostly affected younger manatees that had not yet attained breeding age, DeWit said.

This year’s record die-off was driven by two causes — one of which remains a mystery.

First a massive bloom of Red Tide algae along the state’s southwestern coast caused 276 deaths early in the year. Red Tide has been around for centuries and has killed manatees before. But this year was the worst Red Tide die-off ever recorded.

Meanwhile, a mysterious ailment has been killing manatees in the Indian River Lagoon on the state’s east coast. That’s been going on since last year but hit a fever pitch in the spring. Twenty-five died in March.

All told, 117 manatees have died in the Indian River Lagoon since July 2012, including one that died this month, according to Kevin Baxter, spokesman for the state marine science laboratory. No one can explain the die-off, which appears to be unprecedented.

Scientists are also baffled as to why scores of dolphins and pelicans died in the lagoon too, or whether there is any connection among the three unusual events.

The deaths of the three species may be a result of pollution-fueled algae blooms that wiped out some 47,000 acres of sea grass in the 156-mile-long lagoon that stretches along the state’s Atlantic Coast.

Manatees normally eat sea grass, but with the sea grass gone they turned to less healthful sources of nutrition. They ate a reddish seaweed called Gracilaria. Tests have found “a suite of toxins” on the Gracilaria, but there is no confirmation that that’s what killed the manatees. And that would not normally affect dolphins and pelicans, which eat fish, not sea grass.

There was one piece of good news in the figures. This year, 71 manatees have been killed by boats. That’s down from the 81 that were killed by boats in 2012 and well below the record of 95 in 2002.

769 Manatees Wash Up Dead This Year (Most Ever Recorded), In Florida, America
Toxic algae blooms that deplete the water of essential oxygen are killing a record number of manatees in Florida this year, biologists say.

A total of 769 manatees have died, making 2013 the deadliest year ever for the blubbery denizens of the deep found off the Florida coast, Save the Manatee Club announced.

With more than two months left this year, nearly twice the number of manatees have already died compared to all of 2012, which saw 392 confirmed manatee deaths.

The last record — 766 dead manatees — was set in 2010, when an unusually cold winter and spring killed hundreds of the delicate creatures, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Manatees live near the coastline, and when the weather turns cold, they often shelter near springs or in warmer discharge canals at power plants to avoid the condition known as “cold stress,” which can weaken and eventually kill the aquatic mammals.

“With 2013’s catastrophic loss of manatee lives coming so close on the heels of the mass mortality suffered during 2010, the already difficult job to ensure the survival of these gentle and defenseless marine mammals has been made all the more challenging, and it’s not over yet,” said the club’s executive director Patrick Rose.

“What we put into our waters, how much we pump from our aquifer and draw from our springs and rivers, together with how we use our waterways, all has an impact on our own lives and the lives of every aquatic species.”

The club’s director of science and conservation blamed two “unusual mortality events” for this year’s major losses.

Toxic red-tide bloom killed 276 manatees this winter and spring in southwestern Florida, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Most of the deaths took place in the Cape Cora-Fort Myers region off the Gulf coast.

The second event remains unexplained, but saw more than 100 manatees die of undetermined causes in Brevard County off the Atlantic coast.

Tripp said those deaths were linked to various algal blooms and the loss of 47,000 acres (19,000 hectares) of seagrass since 2010.

Of the total number of deaths this year, 123 were stillborn, newborn or young calves, in another record for that mortality category.

Manatees are a protected species in Florida, highly affected by urban development in recent years along the coast in the central and southern parts of the state.

In the bay of Miami, where families of three or four manatees are commonly spotted along the shore, many of the animals are killed after being struck by boats.