FORT MYERS, Fla., -- Manatee deaths could see a new record high this year, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). PEER says there have been 154 manatee deaths in seven weeks.
“Usually there’s so many of them, it’s just whole different atmosphere," said P.J. Davis, a visitor of Manatee Park in Fort Myers.
Davis said she's noticed they have been less manatees since going to the park, she assumed it was the weather that was keeping them away.
"You would think that they would migrate toward here because the power plant warms the water," she said.
According to PEER's website, "exposure to water temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit for long periods induces manatees to suffer cold-stress syndrome, which triggers weight loss, internal fat loss, dehydration, and other problems. Juvenile manatees are especially vulnerable to death from cold stress."
They account 51 of the 154 deaths in the last two months due to the cold weather in Southwest Florida. PEER says Florida is on a path to set a new annual record for manatee mortality, which is 803 manatee deaths in 2013.
For visitors of the park, like Luke Long, he worries the public isn't doing enough to help.
“The more people know about it, the more people that can come and enjoy it with their friends or family, their kids," said Long. "The more people are going to give money to help the wildlife out.”
Manatee Park says if you see an injured or dead manatee, you are urged to call 888- 404- FWCC (3922).