Florida Manatee Crisis: Emergency Feeding Efforts Underway, Large Number Congregate in One Place

Florida’s manatees are under the microscope today as rescuers try an emergency feeding program to stop the record number of deaths. Meanwhile, record numbers of the gentle creatures have congregated in one warm water place. Cold water may be forcing them to congregate, making feeding easier.

sea water ocean animal
Manatees may finally be seeking warmer water, allowing rescuers to feed them. Photo by Lars H Knudsen on Pexels.com

As we noted here, the massive creatures have been dying at a record rate. About 1,000 died last year. Some media reports say morst of the deaths were from starvation because their normal food is dying off. Manatees eat seagrasses which have been depleted by pollution. Water pollution blocks the sunlight the grasses need to grow.

To try and save the starving creatures a feeding plan has been proposed and tested. So far it has not worked as expected but colder weather should help. The severe plight of the well-loved animals has caused the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the US Fish and Wildlifeus fish and wildlife service to step in. It is rare for agencies to step in to these situations but the record number of deaths sparked the move. Contrary to reports, the Florida ageny said most of the manatees necropsied last year died from water craft accidents. But a significant enough number died from starvation to prompt the move.

flight launch rocket astronaut
Cape Canaveral has also been famous for the U.S. space program. Here is a photo of a Space Shuttle launch. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Rescuers set up a feeding station at a Florida Power and Light plant along Indian Lagoon in Cape Canaveral on Florida’s east coast. Manatees gather there in winter to bask in warm water released from the plant. The idea is to use a conveyer belt to distribute romaine lettuce, cabbage and other greens to the animals. The vegetables are favorites of the animals when in captivity. However, a mild winter has kept the animals from congregating as normal and they have yet to be seen eating the greens. That is expected to change. The plan has the support of the Save the Manatee Club, founded in 1981 by singer Jimmy Buffet and former U.S, Senator and Florida Governor Bob Graham. The club works to protect the animals and their habitat.

Singer Jimmy Buffet co-founded the Save the Manatee Club in 1981

There is a sign that the plan is starting to work. The club counted a record 664 of the “sea cows” basking in the warm Volusia Blue Springs recently. The water in the St. John’s River had dipped to 59 degrees, the coldest this winter.

Published by ursusrising

long time writer and editor living in Los Angeles

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