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Environment and Science

Alarming Number Of Manatee Deaths Prompts $8 Million In State Budget

A Florida manatee cow and calf.
A Florida manatee cow and calf.

Manatees are getting $8 million under the state budget lawmakers agreed to this week. 

The funding coincides with an alarming die-off in the ailing Indian River Lagoon. 

Nearly 700 manatees have been found dead in Florida since January, more than triple the number by this time last year. 

The average annual death count during the past five years had been under 600 manatees. The die-off has prompted a federal investigation. 

Many of the deaths are in the Indian River Lagoon. The manatees are believed to be starving, as recent harmful algae blooms have led to a widespread loss of seagrass. 

The non-recurring state funding will go toward improving manatee access to springs and habitat restoration. 

The manatee was reclassified in 2017 as threatened rather than endangered. 

The Legislature faces a 72-hour “cooling off” period on the state budget before taking a final vote Friday, concluding the session. 

 
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