Red tide blamed for deaths of at least 97 manatees in Florida this year

540 manatees have died through August 12

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- It hasn't been a good year for manatees in Florida.

According to state wildlife statistics, there have been more manatee deaths so far this year than all of last year.

A total of 540 manatees have died through Aug. 12, compared to 538 in 2017. Experts blame a cold snap at the beginning of the year and the toxic red tide algae in the Gulf of Mexico for the fatalities.

Statistics from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission say that red tide is to blame for 97 manatee deaths.

Experts say it's likely that 2018 will rival 2013, when 723 manatees died.

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