November is Manatee Awareness Month in Florida. For over 30 years proclamations have been officially made to help protect this endangered marine mammal and Florida treasure.
This November is different though, as a sense of foreboding blankets the future of the sirenians here in Florida. This year, 2013 has seen the highest mortality of manatees since record keeping began = 766 manatee deaths as of October 25, 2013 and 769 currently according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission records. Of these, 276 manatees died where red tide was prevalent in southwest Florida. Additionally, in this Florida Fish and Wildlife preliminary report an unusually high number of “Undetermined” manatee deaths were reported near the Indian River Lagoon on Florida’s east coast. It is thought to be part of a serious toxic imbalance along with a significant loss of seagrass beds, part of the manatee’s main food source.