Manatee deaths in Florida break state’s all-time annual record

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STUART, Fla. (WFLA/AP) — More manatees have died already this year in Florida than during any other year in the state’s recorded history, primarily from starvation due to the loss of seagrass beds.

The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission reported that 841 manatee deaths were recorded through July 2. According to its report, 87 manatee deaths have been reported in the Tampa Bay area, a rise of 11 deaths since our previous report on the matter.

Manatee deaths attributed to unusual mortality event 

Here the deaths broken down in our local counties:

  • Hillsborough — 24
  • Pinellas — 26
  • Sarasota — 7
  • Citrus —19
  • Manatee — 10
  • Pasco — 1

The previous record of 830 occurred in 2013 during an outbreak of toxic red tide. More than half of the deaths have been in the Indian River Lagoon and its surrounding areas in Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties.

Some biologists think water pollution is killing the seagrass beds in the area.

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