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Florida breaks annual manatee death record in first 6 months

Photo: NOAA
Photo: NOAA

STUART, Fla. (AP) — More manatees have died already this year than in any other year in Florida’s recorded history, primarily from starvation due to the loss of seagrass beds.

The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission reported that 841 manatee deaths were recorded through July 2.

That breaks the previous record of 830 that died in 2013 because of an outbreak of toxic red tide.

More than half the animals have died in the Indian River Lagoon and its surrounding areas in Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties. Some biologists believe water pollution is killing the seagrass beds in the area.

Danielle Prieur covers education in Central Florida.