A record in Florida has been surpassed, and not one to be proud of. 1,003 manatees have died in Florida from Jan 1, 2021, through November 12, 2021.

FWC: Florida Documents 1,003 Manatee Deaths In 2021

A record in Florida has been surpassed, and not one to be proud of. 1,003 manatees have died in Florida from Jan 1, 2021, through November 12, 2021.

The Florida manatee is a native species found in many of Florida’s waterways.

The Florida manatee population has grown to a minimum of 7,520 animals today and as a result, the species was reclassified from an endangered to a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act in May, 2017.

Florida manatees were first protected through Florida State Law in 1893. Manatees are protected by the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act and are federally protected by both the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act

2021 is the deadliest year for manatees and far more than the previous record of 830 deaths in 2013.

ZooTampa at Lowry Park, a leader in the conservation, protection, and rehabilitation of manatees said on Wednesday, “As one of only 4 manatee critical care centers in the United States, we are at the forefront of helping with the ongoing crisis facing this species. After today’s announcement of a record number of deaths this year and following careful evaluation of the issue, we support the bipartisan effort to reclassify manatees as “endangered” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.”

“Manatees are in serious trouble. Our David A. Straz, Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center, which is the second-largest in the country, has been operating at near capacity for almost 10 months, providing around-the-clock care and rehabilitation to the most critically ill manatees from across Florida including a record number of orphaned calves. The loss of more than 1000 manatees this year is deeply concerning and will have serious repercussions for years to come,” said ZooTampa.

“We recognize that the current listing of “threatened” provides protections for manatees, as do Florida law and the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. However, as evidenced by this year’s staggering death toll, many threats remain, including seagrass insufficiency, habitat loss, pollution, climate change, and declining water quality,” ZooTampa added.

As experts in the field, ZooTampa believes uplisting manatees will keep needed focus on protecting this species, helping the veterinarians, biologists, researchers, lawmakers, wildlife officials, and Florida residents who collaborate to identify the causes of, and solutions to, these risks.

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