"ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Fewer manatee deaths have been recorded so far this year in Florida compared to the record-setting numbers in 2021, but wildlife officials cautioned Wednesday that chronic starvation remains a dire and ongoing threat to the marine mammals.
Between Jan. 1 and July 15, about 631 manatee deaths have been confirmed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. That compares with 864 during the same period last year, when a record number of manatees died mainly from a lack of seagrass food, which was decimated by water pollution. The five-year average of manatee deaths in that time frame is 481.
Despite some glimmers of hope, wildlife officials said during a news conference Wednesday that manatees continue to face dwindling food options and many survivors have been severely weakened by malnutrition, which leaves them more vulnerable once cold weather sets in."