Annual Manatee Death Count Shows Cold Weather an Unusually Big Factor Again

By: FWC Release
By: FWC Release

January 5, 2012 -

A cold-related die-off of manatees in early 2011 set the stage for a third straight year with high numbers of deaths for the species. Biologists with the research arm of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) documented 453 manatee carcasses in state waters in 2011.

During the past three years, biologists documented the highest levels of cold-related manatee deaths, with the “cold stress” category accounting for 112 in 2011, 282 in 2010 and 56 in 2009. In the previous five years, cold stress accounted for an average of 30 manatee deaths per year.

The total number of reported manatee deaths in 2011 was the second-highest on record. Biologists documented a record 766 manatee deaths in 2010 and recorded the third-highest total of 429 in 2009.

“We are concerned about the number of manatee deaths the past three years, including those resulting from exposure to cold weather,” said Gil McRae, director of the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. “Over the next few years, we will use data from monitoring programs to better understand any long-term implications for the population. We will continue to work with our partners to enhance the availability of natural warm-water sites, which are important habitats for the species’ survival,” McRae said.

FWC researchers, managers and law enforcement staff work closely together to evaluate mortality data and identify necessary actions. Managers focus on actions that can reduce risks to manatees and protect foraging and warm-water habitats. The FWC’s Division of Law Enforcement, in cooperation with partner agencies, uses knowledge of local boating habits, well-posted speed zones and up-to-date manatee information as part of its on-the-water enforcement operations. Informing boaters about manatee conservation and enforcing manatee-protection zones are priorities for the FWC.

To learn more about manatee conservation, go to

Florida residents can help manatees by purchasing the manatee specialty license plate, available at county tax collectors’ offices. The funds collected for these plates go directly to manatee research and conservation.

To report a dead or distressed manatee, call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

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  • by Good Budd Location: ga on Jan 5, 2012 at 12:04 PM
    Those poor creatures, still believe GLOBAL WARMING with be the end of us all
  • by ConservativeHippie on Jan 5, 2012 at 11:44 AM
    What we need here is a limited hunting season on manatees and black bears. A limited hunting season modeled along the lines of the current regulations for hunting alligators.
  • by Steve Location: Florida native/resident on Jan 5, 2012 at 11:00 AM
    What happened to those tree huggers, that were cryin' and whinin' about the temperature of the water discharged at Crystal River? Hiding their heads in the sand??? I made this point perfectly clear in my blog about the nukes and coal burners. If you want these big animals to survive, quit whining about discharged water at 90 degrees! These creatures love it. By the way, these critters are vegetarians, they eat what the sea produces. They can't eat, they go somewhere else. Something good has to be happening in the Gulf Waters around and about these powerplants. Thanx.
  • by A. Gore on Jan 5, 2012 at 10:44 AM
    ya'll need to hurry up with the global warming so the manatees will be warm enough
  • by KC on Jan 5, 2012 at 10:43 AM
  • by alan Location: ga. on Jan 5, 2012 at 10:40 AM
    I personally wouldn't mind seeing all the Wakulla & St. Marks rivers posted idle zone /no wake.
    • reply
      by ConservativeHippie on Jan 5, 2012 at 11:42 AM in reply to alan
      The Wakulla and St. Marks need to be designated as No Motor Zones above Hwy 98. Minimum Speed Zones below 98 to the St. Marks Lighthouse.
  • by sammy on Jan 5, 2012 at 08:44 AM
    Unnessary concerns about some thing you cannot control,all this research is a waste of tax payers money,Let mother nature do its job.The same goes for the turtle rescue project a few years ago that costed tax payers better than a million dollars to warm them up with blankets and take them further south to "warmer water" Every thing happens for a reason.
    • reply
      by caveman on Jan 5, 2012 at 11:41 AM in reply to sammy
      I'm with you sammy. shoulda gathered 'em up and give to the food banks. taste like fried chicken
    • reply
      by O_o on Jan 6, 2012 at 06:19 AM in reply to sammy
      Take a look at the entire budget and see where the money is being spent instead of sluping the Fox cool aid. Think, dummy, for yourself!
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