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Efforts are being increased to reduce death of manatees from starvation in Florida

By Kay Jones and Melissa Alonso, CNN

Efforts are being increased to address “the unusual manatee mortality event” along the state’s Atlantic coast, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

According to a news release sent to CNN by the FWC, a temporary field response station was approved by FWC and US Fish and Wildlife Service leadership to be situated in the central Indian River Lagoon. Staff was also approved to conduct “supplemental feeding,” according to the release, short-term feeding trial that aims to reduce manatee mortality and reduce the number of animals in need of care.

“It is critical we help manatees in the short term with actions that are compatible with their long-term well-being and resilience,” Shannon Estenoz, Department of the Interior assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks said in the release.

Officials do not know how many of the animals will visit the site but say in the release that while manatee morality won’t be eliminated with the trial, the goal is to reduce it.

Officials say they still expect a relatively high mortality rate among the manatees along Florida’s Atlantic coast this coming winter “due to chronic effects of starvation from the loss of seagrass associated with poor water quality within the Indian River Lagoon.”

At least 1,038 manatees have died all around Florida in 2021, up from a total of 637 in 2020, according to statistics provided by FWC. It’s unclear how many manatees died of starvation, the FWC tells CNN. At least 130 manatees have been rescued this calendar year, according to the agency.

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