Those who follow the fate of Florida manatees are bracing for a tough winter.
This has already been the deadliest year on record for manatees with 988 deaths through October 29th, but the death rate is expected to climb the next few months.
Wildlife officials say there will be less seagrass this winter for manatees to feed on.
State and federal officials are considering feeding the manatees non-native freshwater plants, but no decision has been made.
Manatees snowbird at power plants for warmth, like the FPL plant in Riviera Beach, because they like the warm water discharge.
Manatees die in water temps below 68 degrees. Before power plants, manatees hung out in warm springs, marshes and rivers but humans have blocked, drained or built around them making them inaccessible to the gentle sea cows.
Florida Manatees, who were just reclassified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from endangered to threatened in 2017, are dying in record numbers, approaching 1,000 this year.
We’ve heard cautionary tales of speeding boats, seen grisly propeller lacerations on manatee backs. Boaters still kill them in high numbers with grisly propeller lacerations, but that’s not the only cause.
The seagrasses that manatees eat have been destroyed by development and pollution.