MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. - More than 400 manatees have died this year, with more than a third in Brevard County alone. In fact, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said more manatees have died in Brevard County than in any other Florida county.
The numbers are astounding. Florida’s beloved sea cows are dying at an alarming rate this year. According to the FWC, 168 deaths were reported in Brevard County, and we’re just two months into the year. Last year at this time, only 85 had died statewide.
"It’s been ongoing for a number of years but it really has gotten dramatically worse," said Save the Manatee Club Executive Director Patrick Rose.
Rose said the cold weather and too much nutrient, or pollution, in the Indian River Lagoon, are to blame.
"What that does is causes algal blooms that then will shade out the seagrass and with that shading, some of the seagrass will die," said Rose.
Less seagrass means dying manatees. Cleaning up the Indian River Lagoon and the coastline requires a massive overhaul: eliminating pollution, switching from septic to sewer, and funding more research.
Patrick Rose has written op-eds and reached out to the federal government to helps save the manatees.
Despite the numbers, he remains hopeful. "We did a lot of good work but now we’re on that precipice where all that good work will just go to waste if that population begins to crash 08 and we can stop that by working together."