Manatee deaths in Florida drop to 606 in 2019

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Fewer manatees died in 2019 in Florida compared with the year before.

Statewide, manatee deaths decreased to 606 deaths last year, down from 824 in 2018.

Experts say it appears the main cause of the decline in deaths is the reduced effect of red tide algae on manatees. Twenty-one manatees died of red tide in 2019, compared with 288 in 2018, said Jaclyn Lopez, a spokeswoman for the Florida Center for Biological Diversity.

The Sun-Sentinel reports that boats and other watercraft were the biggest cause of manatee deaths last year, causing at least 136 of the fatalities — or about 22% for the year. According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission data, 129 of the gentle giants were not recovered.

A cause of death hasn’t been determined in 119 cases. Broward and Miami-Dade counties saw fewer deaths, although manatee deaths increased slightly in Palm Beach County.

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