Florida manatee deaths drop but starvation still a concern

FILE - A group of manatees are pictured in a canal where discharge from a nearby Florida Power & Light plant warms the water in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Dec. 28, 2010. Wildlife officials said Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, that food, gear and supplies are staging along Florida's east coast to tackle the recurring, pollution-related starvation crisis for threatened manatees. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Manatee deaths dropped in 2022 from a record high the year before, but Florida wildlife officials said Wednesday that chronic starvation caused by water pollution remains a major concern.

Preliminary statistics show 800 recorded manatee deaths last year in Florida, according to the state Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. That compares with more than 1,100 in 2021.

Both numbers are higher than the average annual deaths of the marine mammals.

The new numbers come as state and federal officials are feeding thousands of pounds of romaine lettuce to manatees at a warm-water power plant on Florida’s east coast in an effort to slow manatee starvation deaths.

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1/11/2023 3:48:43 PM (GMT -6:00)

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