Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
In the first two months of 2021, more manatees have died than in the first two months of 2020 and 2019 combined, totaling an estimated 350 animals. Despite recently passed protections for Florida’s seagrasses, a crucial part of the ecosystem that supports manatees, the sea cows are starving at higher rates and experts worry this may be the sign of an ecosystem collapse. Without swift action, 2021 could see over 2,000 manatee deaths, a third of Florida’s documented population.
Experts say these manatee deaths are a symptom of that habitat destruction, as poor water quality, sea-level rise, and rising temperatures destroy the seagrass that sustains the entire ecosystem. Without mitigating threats to seagrass, manatees won’t be the last Florida species to experience mass casualty events.
Taken Off the Menu: Experts believe the primary cause of these deaths is starvation due to seagrass loss over the past few decades. Indian River Lagoon guide Billy Rotne explained, “the raw truth of the matter is due to negligence of our stormwater, we’ve had continual algal blooms over the past 10 years, which blocks out seagrass and kills it, so the manatees are starving to death.”
Algal blooms have plagued the region in recent years; one red-tide bloom lasted for 16 months, irreparably damaging the Southwest coast of Florida. The damage to manatee habitats is so bad, Rotne says, you can see it from space. “We’ve had an entire ecological loss. Look on Google Earth. It’s gone. All the meaningful acreage of seagrass they depend upon is gone,” he said.
What to Do?
Last summer, Florida created the Nature Coast Aquatic Preserve, which protects 400,000 acres of seagrass, effectively extending protections for habitats running along Florida’s gulf coast. Florida has seen much success in the past restoring seagrass along the coast, and experts are hopeful that new protections can stave off further destruction. Additionally, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is considering implementing catch-and-release policies for snook, trout, and redfish, as well as giving protections to threatened fish species in the area, in an attempt to preserve and protect the ecosystem. But for now, experts say reducing runoff and algal blooms is the key to stopping seagrass destruction.
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor According to the Australian Koala Foundation, 30% of the nation’s Koalas have been lost to drought, bushfires, and logging in just three years. The population has dropped to 58,000 from more than 80,000 in 2018, and no regions saw positive population growth. These findings arrive just days after the […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor The maned wolf is certainly a unique animal, with long legs, massive ears, and bright red fur. Many might compare it to a fox, but it’s actually South America’s largest canid species. And not only is the maned wolf elusive — it’s endangered. Researchers working with Rewilding Argentina and […]
Today is International Red Panda Day! These iconic and adorable creatures are worth celebrating for many reasons, but they’re also in need of serious protection. This cat-sized, fluffy-tailed animal is listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list. Climate change and rising temperatures are reducing the red panda’s […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.