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Concerns rise over increase in manatee deaths

Posted at 9:09 AM, Jun 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-16 09:09:09-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Manatee deaths could reach a record high for this year, and it has some people concerned in Southwest Florida.

A Southwest Florida water guide tells Fox 4 one of the biggest things we can do is cut back on the amount of fertilizer being dumped into our waterways- which as we know can help create algae blooms.

“These algae blooms are thick enough and concentrated enough that they are covering the surface of the water and they are denying the seagrass beds, sunlight, and as a result, we are seeing a lot of manatees that have ventricular folding, which is a sign that they are starving, ” said Tim Martell, Seaway Outfitters.
As of June 4th, the number of manatee deaths recorded for this year has reached a staggering 782.

With the previous record of 830 deaths in 2013 now in sight local businesses here in Southwest Florida like “seaway outfitters”, say they have seen a slight decrease in manatees when they are out on the water.

The rising number of deaths has state leaders like congressman Vern Buchanan asking Florida Fish and Wildlife to change their status from threatened back to endangered.

He says doing this will provide them with the highest level of federal protection.

Martell says we can all play a part in helping keep the waterways clean.

“Businesses, local businesses, landscapers, golf courses, they know and understand how much fertilizer they are supposed to be using. Because a lot of the problems is that we are using excess fertilizer we are using more than we need, so this is a problem everyone is involved in and everyone plays a part, “ said Martell.

Martell says making these changes now will help keep Southwest Florida from seeing bigger problems in the future.