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Florida Manatees Die in Record Numbers

For such a gentle creature, the Florida Manatee actually has a tough life. I mean, they just sort of bob and float around and eat grass all day, which is pretty nice, but with Manatee Awareness Month starting in November, it’s a good time to look at the number of deadly threats facing this endangered species.

For another look at what the manatees face in their struggle for survival, check out the time lapse video above of people upsetting resting manatees. It shows, as Jaymi aptly put, the manatees being “loved to death“.

Flickr: prefvotuporanga/CC BY 2.0

When they aren’t getting hit by boats, which is their number one cause of death, they suffer from crazy guys jumping on their backs or ladies trying to take them for a joy ride. Unusually cold weather can kill off hundreds, as well, as it did in the winter of 2010. Sadly, 2013 has been the deadliest year on record for manatees, due in part to a toxic red algae bloom, which can poison the manatees and other wildlife, causing paralyses and eventual drowning.

In April of this year, 241 manatees had been reported killed due to the algae. Now the number of dead manatees has risen to 769 so far this year, which is a record high.

The red algae bloom is not only deadly to manatees. The New York Times reports that birds, dolphins and other animals can be killed by consuming the poison, but humans are also at risk:

Residents and tourists regularly have respiratory problems after inhaling brevetoxins while strolling on beaches near red tides. People can also become ill after eating oysters and clams that have absorbed the toxin.

Experts are uncertain why this year’s algae bloom was so lengthy and toxic. Phosphorus runoff from fertilized farms and lawns may have contributed, because algae thrive on a phosphorus diet.

Once again, we’re reminded of our interconnectedness with other species and the environment. Because of our current system of unsustainable agriculture that is far too dependent on chemical fertilizers, as well as our quest for artificially green lawns, we’re contributing to record deaths in already vulnerable species. It can feel strange to think of how our shopping habits or landscaping choices impact manatees, but this is just an example of how the choices we make as individuals and a society create ripple effects that stretch through the economy and the environment.

Related
Quirky Animal Quiz
The World’s 6 Most Endangered Animal Habitats
Gentle Giant Manatee (Video)

Read more: Nature, Nature & Wildlife, Videos, Videos

Main Image Credit: CC BY 3.0 Wikimedia Commons

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Kara, selected from TreeHugger

Planet Green is the multi-platform media destination devoted to the environment and dedicated to helping people understand how humans impact the planet and how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Its two robust websites, planetgreen.com and TreeHugger.com, offer original, inspiring, and entertaining content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green is a division of Discovery Communications.

125 comments

+ add your own
4:58AM PDT on Jun 27, 2014

very sad but thanks for sharing

12:42AM PST on Feb 17, 2014

Once again we all see that even in western countries the majority of people don't give a f**** about other beings.

All that matters is FUN, FUN , FUN . SO many people could have such a HUGE influence and could help.
But boating around is more important
SHAME SHAME SHAME

11:43AM PST on Nov 19, 2013

this is so sad to me. When I was growing up we had a manitee in a nearby lake (in S. Florida). He seemed the sweetest creature, we all loved to go to the dock where he hung out to see him.

3:30PM PST on Nov 17, 2013

We need to impose fines on farms and golf courses that overfertilize their fields, causing the algal blooms that kill the manatees.

3:01PM PST on Nov 17, 2013

Heartbreaking for sure.

8:15AM PST on Nov 16, 2013

So sad...such a gentle creature.

10:32PM PST on Nov 11, 2013

These creatures have a purpose like many others

1:10AM PST on Nov 9, 2013

No surprise to me with all the shit we continue to dump on, in, and under the water. Plus the asshole interference for entertainment's sake. Humankind outdoes itself once again!

6:04PM PST on Nov 8, 2013

William R.
10:36AM PST on Nov 5, 2013
There needs to be a major advertising campaign in Florida to educate boaters, farmers, etc., about the plight of the manatees. Unfortunately, living in the middle Atlantic region, I can do little to help, except make contributions. Perhaps a few laws -- boating safety and farm and lawn pollution runoff limits -- could help the manatees and other animals as well.
.
William ,you wrote a good comment. I did comment on this previously and I have to say I am disgusted at what I see. People ,boats ,you name all harassing these poor manatees. SO WRONG. They are huddled together in a small area and NO ONE leaves them alone and I'm sure there are major deaths .I've never seen so many boats and people not care at all.... Not a drop. They need education but I'm sorry but most know exactly what they are doing and they know they are causing distress.they don't care. They are selfish and want to get close or don't care how close they get .Like the boats. Very sad!! They are absolutely being harassed. FLORIDA is not doing anything. It breaks my heart and this video shows all.

4:28AM PST on Nov 8, 2013

very-very sad

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