Tags: manatees | dying | indian river lagoon | algae | florida

Manatees Dying in Indian River Lagoon, FL, After Algae Diet Change

Image: Manatees Dying in Indian River Lagoon, FL, After Algae Diet Change
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By    |   Friday, 15 Jul 2016 11:05 AM

Manatees are dying in the Indian River Lagoon in Florida's Brevard County as the waterway continues to suffer from pollution and algae.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the bodies of eight manatees have been pulled from the river since May and more than 150 have died there over the past four years. Officials said the mammals showed some signs of trauma.

"We are still narrowing down the cause, but the hypothesis is still that the change of vegetation that the manatees are eating makes them to susceptible to complications in their guts," Martine de Wit, lead veterinarian at the Marine Mammal Pathobiology Laboratory of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in St. Petersburg. "It gives them acute shock."

Pollution and an outbreak of microscopic algae turned waters both brown and green while wiping out sea grass in 2012. A "superbloom" in the Indian River Lagoon the year before saw a greenish Resultor algae species cover nearly 131,000 acres, reported Tampa Bay Online.

De Witt said that of 166 dead manatees her laboratory examined, including new discoveries in recent weeks, had little or no sea grass in their stomachs, but algae commonly known as seaweed instead.

The manatee deaths do not seem to be linked to the toxic blue-green algae bloom damaging Florida's Atlantic coast and Lake Okeechobee, de Witt said. While the state continues to monitor that algae bloom, no manatee deaths have been tied to that species of algae.

Earlier this month, Florida Gov. Rick Scott asked President Barack Obama to declare a federal emergency in connection with Lake Okeechobee, blaming "unnecessary water releases" from the lake for exacerbating the bloom, noted the Palm Beach Post.

Scott also blamed the federal government for failing to replace or rebuild the Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee. The newspaper reported that the lake's discharge, meant to reduce the risk of nearby flooding, has dumped nutrients from farm and housing runoff into the St. Lucie Estuary and other waterways, sparking the algae growth.

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Manatees are dying in the Indian River Lagoon in Florida's Brevard County as the waterway continues to suffer from pollution and algae.
manatees, dying, indian river lagoon, algae, florida
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2016-05-15
Friday, 15 Jul 2016 11:05 AM
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