Fish and Wildlife officials met Thursday to discuss 2021's record number of manatee deaths, and to plan ways to save the animals from another year of massive die-offs.
Reports show 1,101 manatees died off Florida's coastline across the entire year, nearly double the number of deaths recorded in 2020.
As of Jan. 13, seven manatee deaths have already been recorded.
Starvation is the leading cause of death of the sea mammals; Seagrass is their primary source of food. Recent algae blooms have blocked the sunlight seagrass needs to grow, and that has been leading to starvation.
FWC officials say once a death is reported, the animal's body is examined so they can understand the reason and cause of death.
There have also been cases of sick manatees rescued and rehabilitated; in the past month there have been 23 rescues, with the majority coming from the east coast.
Places like ZooTampa and Sea World are partnering with FWC in the rescue effort. Currently, Sea World, the only facility able to house them, has about 35 in their care.
Sea world is the only facility that is able to take manatees at this time.
FWC has been offering lettuce to the manatees as a way to help with lowering the starvation rate. However some of the manatees are rejecting the lettuce. Officials said they’ll keep trying alternatives until they find something that works.
Meanwhile, they want the public to know that the best way to help is when you’re out on the water, pay attention to those speed zones.
Also, they want you to make sure you don’t feed the manatees. This is still illegal, and could do more harm than good.