2018—A Record-Setting Year for Manatee Mortality
An Environmental Article from All-Creatures.org

From Pat Rose, Executive Director and Aquatic Biologist, Save the Manatee Club
March 2019

​In 2018, 121 manatees perished from collisions with watercraft, the highest number ever recorded.

Manatee mom and calf
A manatee mother and young calf at Blue Spring State Park, an important winter refuge for manatees. Photo by Cora Berchem, Save the Manatee Club.

In 2018, 121 manatees perished from collisions with watercraft, the highest number ever recorded. This situation is made even more troubling by the fact that 25 more manatees suffering from watercraft-related injuries had to be rescued during 2018.

Manatee deaths

Manatees also confronted other serious threats during 2018, resulting in 824 total deaths and ending the year just six manatee deaths shy of the 2013 record of 830 total deaths, a record we hoped would never be approached again.

A prolonged and extensive red tide event killed at least 215 manatees in 2018 and continues to put manatees at risk during 2019. Sadly, 2018 saw 77 manatees die from cold stress, a threat that continues as a significant mortality factor in early 2019.

As in the past, Brevard and Lee counties had the highest number of manatee deaths from boat strikes (14 and 17, respectively), as well as the largest number of deaths overall (117 and 182, respectively).

A total of 135 sick or injured manatees were successfully rescued during
2018. As previously stated, 25 resulted from watercraft strikes, while 28 were attributed to entrapment, 18 from entanglement, and 16 more from red tide.

Many manatee rescues result in the successful rehabilitation and release of the manatee when reported early, which is why it is important to report any manatee that is hurt, being harassed, or in immediate danger to FWC [Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission] by calling 1-888-404-3922.


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