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Scientists worried about a shocking number of manatee deaths

Posted at 10:35 PM, Oct 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-24 22:35:23-04

FLORIDA — This year there has been a dramatic drop in manatees in Florida.

The Center for Biological Diversity said there is a clear explanation. Nutrient pollution caused by humans caused about 500 manatees to die in the Indian River Lagoon.

"Those manatees died from starvation or malnutrition attributable to a lack of seagrass which is the food that they forage on," said Jaclyn Lopez, the Florida Director for the Center for Biological Diversity.

She said nutrient pollution is caused by fertilizers and pesticides. It then created more algae blooms, which smothers the seagrass.

"In an area that used to have tens of thousands of acres is unable to be successful and thrive there. So, manatees showed up to eat their favorite seagrass in the middle of winter and there just wasn't enough to go around," she said.

Lopez said there is no other way to have these levels of nutrient pollution.

"It's actually very straightforward measuring things like nutrient pollution that's a very simple process of water monitoring and there's no dispute that the source of the nutrient pollution is human-caused," she said.

It's projected to be a rough winter for manatees.

Lopez said there are existing laws in Florida to diminish the pollution in our waters, but the laws aren't heavily enforced.

If the laws are enforced, we could save those cute, chubby mammals, Lopez said.