Water conservation

Florida will start feeding its hungry manatees

Image from article titled After years of polluting their water, Florida says it will start feeding hungry manatees

Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui (Getty Images)

Florida environmental officials have resorted to food West Indian manatees as a last resort effort to potentially prevent hundreds of them from starvation to death. The raison the gentle marine mammals starve first, although, is partly the work of man, the result of pollution of waterways and climate change algae blooms.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announcement the experimental feeding effort will take place in selected manatee staging areas and will involve by providing them with heads of lettuce and cabbage delivered via a device similar to a conveyor belt. Officials were quick to point out that this was being led by wildlife experts and that the the public should not hand feed the manatees. Obtain enough food for large sea creatures nor will it be an easy task, as an adult can normally use an excess of 100 pounds (45 kilograms) of seagrass per day under normal circumstances.

But these are not normal circumstances. A save 841 West Indian manatees died in the first six months of 2021, according to data from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. State The data shows 1,017 manatees died in mid-November, or about 10% of Florida’s total population.

A great driving force behind the death of manatees is water pollution, which has muffled seagrass creatures eat normally. ohoutbreaks of toxic algal blooms are, according to scientists, bound to climate change have further led to the massive deaths of manatees. For an idea of ​​the scale, the St. Johns River Water Management District estimates around 58% of seagrass beds have disappeared since 2009, which they say is mainly due to a decrease in nutrients in the water resulting from runoff.

“This unprecedented event deserves unprecedented action,” said Thomas Eason, deputy executive director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. said at a press conference.

The officials are would have plan to focus their power efforts in waters near the Florida Power & Light plant plant near Cape Canaveral along the Indian River Lagoon, an area where more than 500 manatees have died this year. Manatees often bring together near the plants because of hot water they reject. Although those responsible for wildlife are consider other actionss like restoring water quality and trying to reduce algal blooms, it will take time, which manatees don’t have. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission data shows how mammals have been the toughest in the first three months of 2021, where around 186, 230 and 194 the animals perished respectively. Monthly deaths fell rapidly in April, but the conservation community remained concerned.

Over the summer, a coalition of 16 Florida environmentalists groups and companies pushed Gov. Ron DeSantis to declare a state of emergency for the Indian River Lagoon, but the state’s environmental protection department has rejected the calls, saying it was no ‘was “not necessary at the moment”, according to the TCPalm. And There are the fears now that deaths could rise again as more manatees migrate and the colder winter months approach. The feeding program also indicates that things are in dire straits.

Florida manatees have struggled for years and were the first added to ein danger mlist of species in 1967. More recently, in 2013, an estimated 830 manatees tragically is dead exposure to the red tide. Despite this, the overall population of the species has increased over the past half century, to reach approximately 6,620 in 2017. The The Trump administration responded to these numbers by moving the manatee from “endangered” to “Threatened”, a designation that comes with fewer protections. Biologists and conservation groups strongly opposite change of status. This year’s death will only intensify calls for more help for sea cows.