PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Red tide is the known or suspected cause of death for 16 manatees in Pinellas County over the past couple of months, the highest mortality numbers in the state during that timeframe, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
- 16 manatees killed so far this year in Pinellas
- 206 killed statewide this year
- Boaters advised to watch out for manatees
"It is another bad year for manatees," said Andy Garrett, FWC Manatee Rescue Coordinator. "Definitely one of our higher mortality years."
According to recently released FWC statistics, from September 29 through October 30, Red Tide killed 14 manatees in Pinellas. Garrett said the only good news is the numbers have been subsiding this month, with only two dead manatees so far in the County.
"It seems maybe subsiding a little bit in terms of carcass of numbers. I know there's still red tide out there," he said. "Maybe it's more patchy at this time but it doesn’t seem to be bothering manatees right now."
Statewide red tide has killed 206 manatees, pushing the total mortality rate to 752. That puts this year on track with 2013, when 830 manatees died, setting a new Florida record.
"In 2013, saw a bad situation where the toxin was on the grass beds down in Ft. Myers area. Animals coming out of the power plants feeding, going back to the power plants," Garrett said. "So, there’s the potential to set up for a really bad situation come the beginning of next year."
This year has already broken a five year record for the number of manatees killed by boat strikes at 109, compared to 67 in 2013.
"It's the time of year manatees are migrating. People should still be aware manatees are moving," said Garrett. "They’re heading towards the warm water. They could be in shallow water. Just asking people to continue watching it for them."