8 manatee deaths reported in Florida lagoon plagued by algae

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MELBOURNE, Fla. (AP) – Wildlife officials say more manatees have died in a Florida lagoon plagued by algae and pollution.

Martine de Wit is a veterinarian for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The Orlando Sentinel quotes him as saying eight manatees have died in the Indian River Lagoon since May.

More than 150 manatees have died in Brevard County since 2012, when an algae bloom wiped out the sea grass that manatees eat. No manatee deaths had been reported since August, though an algae bloom earlier this year caused massive fish kills. That bloom is unrelated to algae that recently fouled waters farther south in the St. Lucie River.

De Wit says dietary changes may make the protected marine mammals susceptible to digestive complications. She says their carcasses contained seaweed, which is a type of algae.

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