Concerned animal conservationists have taken the stage to warn about some somewhat unsettling news in the marine mammal world.
As it would seem, there’ve been more manatee deaths in Florida in 2018 than there were in 2017; and given how we’re only in August, this year isn’t even close to being over yet.
Image Credit: Pixabay
Since the beginning of 2018, at least 554 deceased manatees have been accounted for. This alarming figure compares to the 538 manatee deaths that transpired during the entire year of 2017.
Citing the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), at least 103 of this year’s manatee deaths can be attributed to this year’s red tide, a toxic algal bloom that’s infamous for killing massive quantities of marine wildlife.
It’s believed that unsuspecting manatees succumb to red tide by munching on seagrasses that have been peppered with toxins linked to the phenomenon. Exacerbating the problem is the fact that the animals are slow swimmers, so they can’t escape the dangers that ensue.
As the red tide continues, animal experts fear the worst; the manatee death toll will likely rise through to the end of 2018. In fact, there could still be additional carcasses out there that haven’t yet been accounted for.
The dire circumstances are particularly concerning because the International Union for the Conservation of Nature recognizes manatees as vulnerable. There are thought to be just 6,000-10,000 manatees left in the wild, and each loss inflicts another blow to their hope of pressing on.
Related: FWC spots 6,250 wild manatees
Notably, red tide isn’t the only thing that kills manatees. Other factors such as ocean pollution, habitat loss, and collisions with boat traffic also play a role.
At this point, the only thing we can do is cross our fingers and hope for the best…