TAMPA, Fla. — Florida manatees are dying at an alarming rate. Zoo Tampa is one of four manatee hospitals in the state – and it’s at 95% capacity with taking in sick and injured manatees.
According to FWC, 540 manatees have died so far this year, that’s three times the normal amount.
Save The Manatee president Patrick Rose says many manatees are starving on the eastern side of the state when they go into springs to seek warmth but there’s no food for them to eat.
"We lost seagrass due to too much pollution that caused algal blooms that killed the seagrass and there’s not enough for the manatees to eat," said Rose.
Manatee advocates have been working hard to get the mammal back on the endangered species list to get federal funding to help save them. But Rose says the solution may be years away.
They say the most important thing people can do right now is to report a sick or dead manatee as soon as they see it. And to never feed manatees even if they look underweight because it could hurt them more.
Rose says so far 80 manatees have been rescued this year.
If you see a sick or injured manatee, call FWC's Wildlife Alert Toll-Free Number: 1-888-404-FWCC (1-888-404-3922), press "7" to speak with an operator.