Florida Senate

12/03/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 12/03/2021 12:27

Update on Manatee Unusual Mortality Event

TALLAHASSEE, FL - Senator Linda Stewart (D-Orlando) recently followed up with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission for an update on the Unusual Mortality Event currently being experienced by Florida manatees.

"FWC and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services are preparing for the winter by coordinating partnerships between Federal, State, Local governments, and private partners. Forming an Incident Command System through these partnerships will greatly streamline response efforts to manatees in distress. A Rescue, Rehabilitate, and Release approach is actively being used to reduce manatee mortalities," said Stewart.

Last session, Senator Stewart secured $8 million in funding for habitat restoration to aid the manatee population. With these additional funds, FWC has multiple projects in line including restoration of manatee access to springs, and rehabilitation of manatee foraging habitats. Expanding seagrass aquaculture facilities and creating over 10 new acres of habitat for seagrasses will restore a primary food source for manatees. FWC will also focus on deploying over 3 million clams, 5 million seed clams, and 30 oyster reefs to improve water quality.

"I've reached out to representatives from the Federal government, and a decision has not yet been reached on supplemental feeding. I've been continuing to contact FWC and Federal officials to expedite efforts from the federal government so that we may continue assisting the state in curbing this unusual mortality event," said Stewart.

You can help manatee conservation by reporting injured, distressed or dead manatees to the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.