Environmental groups in Florida have warned that the death toll at dugongs is unusually high in the first five months of the year. Part of the blame is the resurgence of algae that contaminates and destroys food sources. may threaten the long-term future of this species.
The 749 deaths recorded by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Board (FWC) as of May 21, surpassing 637 from the full year 2020. The total is on the verge of exceeding the high of 804 set in 2018.
Mass death from the seagrass which is a favorite food source for slow-moving aquatic mammals cause starvation The situation is exacerbated by the recurrence of blue-green algae blooms in land and phytoplankton blooms in Florida waters.
Offshore, recent spills and releases of toxic wastewater into Tampa Bay from an abandoned Piney Point fertilizer plant and the return of red-water algae threats have made the water toxic, the FWC said. That the 12 manatee deaths so far this year have come from confirmation or suspected tide. But the actual number could be much higher. because not all of the dead dugongs were dissected.
The St. Johns River Water Management District states that in the 150-mile Indian River Lagoon, an inland estuary where about a third of the approximately 7,500 manatees of the remaining 7,500 manatees visit in Each year, 58% of seagrass has been lost since 2009.
The agency said excessive nutrient runoff, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus, could either kill seagrass immediately or create blooms that block sunlight.
“The 80,000 acres of seagrass that was once lost in the Indian River Lagoon has been continuously lost to the harmful algae. It itself is caused by decades of human nutrient pollution from wastewater and runoff that remains unchanged to this day, said Bob Graham, former Florida governor and co-founder of Save the Manatee in an editorial at Save the Manatee. Published by Tampa Bay Times.
meanwhile The Center for Biodiversity (CBD) has expressed concern about a study in March that showed traces of the pesticide in more than 55% of the dugongs tested.
Florida CBD director Jaclyn Lopez said: “Our beloved fat sea cows are escaping tidal and starving in the Indian River Lagoon due to water pollution. “It is sad to add chronic glyphosate exposure to the list of factors that threaten manatee survival.
Graham said the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) “threw the ball” in 2019 when it changed the manatee’s conservation status from endangered to threatened.
“They listened to the anti-manatee group and prematurely removed the dugong from the endangered species list. Due to the opposition of thousands of scientists and Americans who understand that the dugong will not be safe in the future. But in reality it could be much worse,” he said.
He said the FWS “should accept the mistake and re-list the dugong as an endangered species”.
Two members of Congress, Stephanie Murphy and Republican Brian Mast have proposed a bill to increase federal funding for manatee protection.
An Orlando Sentinel editorial earlier this month blamed the manatee’s rise in deaths. It has been criticized for “environmental insults” among Florida politicians and attacks former Governor Rick Scott, now a US senator. Base on environmental budget cuts when in position