Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida

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Florida manatees are dying in droves this year. Experts blame poor water quality, starvation

manateesfreeNOAA In: Florida manatees are dying in droves this year. Experts blame poor water quality, starvation | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River
Photo public domain, NOAA .

The manatees are starving to death say the experts, their food killed off by continual algal blooms.  If this is true we must blame the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for not having the political will to stop the algae.   It can be stopped and they know how.

Scientists know that the blooms are caused by excess nitrates in the water, and these come principally from agriculture and urban fertilizer and also septic tanks.  Over-pumping our aquifer also reduces spring and river flow, which helps the algae to grow.

Curtailing Big AG is a formidable task that the State of Florida is not ready to do.  Even controlling septics has been a slow and difficult task opposed by the strong building industry.

Meanwhile, Florida continues to suffer decline in the tourism and fishing industries  but the manatees are paying the ultimate price.

Read the complete article here at Yahoo!News.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum

Florida manatees are dying in droves this year. Experts blame poor water quality, starvation

Chad Gillis, Fort Myers News-Press

·3 min read

FORT MYERS, Fla. – It’s already been a deadly year for Florida manatees.

More sea cows deaths have been documented through the first two months of the year than were recorded during those same two months in 2019 and 2020 combined, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission records.

Through Feb. 12, the state recorded 317 manatee deaths, though former FWC commissioner Ron Bergeron said he thought the number was closer to 350 sea cows.

Manatee advocates said the die-off is another example of poor water quality.

“It’s something we’ve never really seen before,” said Pat Rose, director of the Save the Manatee Club. “It looks like we have a substantial number of manatees that are starving….”

‘We’ve had an entire ecological loss’

Boat kills and cold stress deaths are tallied, as usual, according to FWC records. The Indian River Lagoon on the Atlantic side of the state accounts for the majority of losses.

The theory is that sea grass losses there the past few decades have left manatees with too little food to survive.

“It’s disgusting,” said Indian Riverkeeper Mike Conner. “I thought about it and talked to the guides, and they fully believe it’s a case of starvation.”

The state is increasingly dealing with water quality issues, from blue-green algae to red tide and brown algae, Conner said.

“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 sea grass and kills it,” said Indian River Lagoon guide Billy Rotne. “So the manatees are starving to death.”

FWC had no comment as of Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s uncomfortable for agencies to talk about,” Rotne said. “There’s no food up here. We’ve had an entire ecological loss. Look on Google Earth. It’s gone. All the meaningful acreage of sea grass they depend upon is gone.”

FWC commissioners were expected to meet Thursday and Friday, when the catch-and-release restrictions on snook, trout and redfish and the addition of the black rail to the state’s endangered and threatened species list will be considered.

The catch-and-release regulations started in the wake of a devastating red tide bloom, which ravaged the Southwest Florida coast – particularly Lee County – during a 16-month period from the fall of 2017 until the spring of 2019.

Follow reporter Chad Gillis on Twitter: @ChadEugene

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