Wednesday is Manatee Appreciation Day. The gentle giants are a Florida staple, but they’ve recently been in trouble. What can be done to aid their survival?
The sea cows are dying at alarming rates because their primary food source, seagrass, is dying off
and because manatees keep getting hit by boats. Wildlife experts are doing anything they can to save manatees in the face of a species-threatening habitat collapse.
According to the Florida Wildlife Commission, the state has around 7,500 remaining manatees. The FWC reported 800 manatee deaths in 2022—lower than the 1,100 reported in 2021 but still higher than the 5-year average of 741 annual deaths. Other threats they face include habitat loss and exposure to harmful algae blooms.
Wildlife experts have seen sand fill in areas where seagrass used to grow. People WINK News spoke with at Manatee Park say it’s heartbreaking to hear how many die annually.
“It’s really important that we preserve, you know, the future of this breed and this animal for our future generations, like, our kids to enjoy,” said Canaan Sckula.
“What’s happening is manatees are slowly starving, to the point where they need to be rescued, or they’re dying,” said Kevin Sckula. “Pretty special animals… have to do the right thing to make sure they survive.”
Wildlife experts say it’s up to us to make sure Southwest Florida’s water sources remain clean.