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Midway Through 2021, Manatee Deaths Set New Annual Record

Credit: David Hinkle  USFWS
Credit: David Hinkle USFWS

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 and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported that 841 manatee deaths were recorded this year 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 of the manatee deaths are 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.

Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.