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Manatee deaths from red tide on the rise

August 2, 2018
By CJ HADDAD ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

A woeful sight was captured by many Army Corps of Engineer meeting-goers at the Cape Coral Yacht Club when a deceased adult female manatee was pulled from the Caloosahatchee Tuesday.

At press time Thursday Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission was still working to determine the cause of death of this manatee, along with two others pulled from waters in Englewood on the same day.

"The manatee was called in by the public and was transported by FWC law enforcement to the Cape Coral Yacht Club, where FWC biologists met with our officers to transport the manatee to the Marine Mammal Pathobiology Lab for necropsy," said Melody Kilborn, FWC spokesperson.

Article Photos

Onlookers take photos and videos of a dead manatee towed to the Cape Coral Yacht Club boat dock Tuesday. It had been found in the river. Necropsy results to determine cause of death are still pending.

The female manatee was surrounded by several small males - not her babies, as some feared - attempting to mate. It is not uncommon for them to mate in herds.

"These manatees were found in areas where there are high concentrations of red tide, however a cause of death has not been determined yet," Kilborn added.

A time table for the necropsy report has not been determined.

"FWC biologists are working diligently to conduct the necropsy and process samples as quickly as possible," she said.

"FWC monitors the health of the Florida manatee population through our manatee necropsy program, as part of our ongoing efforts to identify any emerging threats to manatee health," she continued. "Consistent and concise necropsies are performed by trained staff and diagnostic samples are tested when needed, to aid in cause of death determination and understanding of health threats."

According to FWC's manatee mortality table, 67 manatees died in the month of June across the state, with Lee County having the highest number at 12. Six died of natural causes, five of undetermined causes and one was unrecovered.

Many residents across Southwest Florida communities are pointing the finger at red ride and the harmful, toxic algal blooms as to why marine life have been washing up on shore or floating dead in area waters.

Kilborn said that as of July 27, high concentrations of red tide were found across many Lee County bodies of water-19 to be exact.

As of Aug. 1, red tide was observed at background to high concentrations in 17 samples collected in Lee County. In total, 109 manatees in Lee County have died from Jan. 1 to July 27.

In 2017, 19 manatees in Lee County died all year due to red tide poisoning.

This year, 53 manatees have died in Lee County due to red tide-and those numbers only cover up to July 19.

To report a sick, injured or dead manatee, call FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-3922.

Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj



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