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Manatee deaths in Florida dropped by more than 25% in 2019

Posted at 7:05 AM, Feb 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-17 07:05:09-05

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Fewer manatees died in 2019 in Florida compared with the year before.

Statewide, manatee deaths decreased to 606 deaths last year, down from 824 in 2018.

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Experts say it appears the main cause of the decline in deaths is the reduced effect of red tide algae on manatees. Twenty-one manatees died of red tide in 2019, compared with 288 in 2018, said Jaclyn Lopez, a spokeswoman for the Florida Center for Biological Diversity.

The Sun-Sentinel reports that boats and other watercraft were the biggest cause of manatee deaths last year, causing at least 136 of the fatalities — or about 22% for the year. According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission data, 129 of the gentle giants were not recovered.

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A cause of death hasn't been determined in 119 cases. Broward and Miami-Dade counties saw fewer deaths, although manatee deaths increased slightly in Palm Beach County.