Florida's Manatees Will Be Hand-Fed to Help Prevent These Mammals From Starvation Due to Pollution

Florida Manatees in the Crystal River Area, Florida
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In 2021, a staggering 1,017 manatees were found dead, leaving fewer than 8,000 in Florida waters, Reuters reported.

Florida manatees, also known as “sea cows,” will be fed by hand in an effort to save the species, which is dying off at an alarming rate due to pollution that is robbing the marine mammals of their natural food source, state officials told Reuters.

Carly Jones of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation said the federal government sent them an email giving them the green light for a program that will help them counter the famine issue that is facing manatees found in Florida’s waterways.

“Unified Command does have the approval to move forward on a limited feeding trail,”  Jones said. “Details are still be working out.”

According to Reuters, the federal government authorized the trial to take place, which is considered “highly unusual in conservation,” since wild animals typically search for their own food, as to not get dependent on human handouts.

In 2021, a staggering 1,017 manatees were found dead, with fewer than 8,000 left in Florida waters, Reuters reported.

Scientists explain that a manatees’ main food source is coastal seagrass. However, nitrogen fuels the growth of the algae, which then smothers and kills coastal seagrass.

In order to help save this vulnerable species, wildlife experts plan to feed the animals romaine lettuce and cabbage, which is what manatees in captivity eat, said Patrick Rose, a marine biologist who leads the Save the Manatee Club in Florida.

It is illegal for the public to feed manatees. Rose said the marine mammals will be fed on private property.

“The idea behind this experimental supplemental feeding is is that you can give them just enough more food that they can get them through this winter time,” Rose said. “The longer this is delayed, the less likely it can be successful.”

According to the FWC website, less than 7,520 wild manatees remain in Florida waters, People reported.

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