Florida manatee deaths at all time high in 2013

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Posted: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 9:54 pm | Updated: 11:47 am, Thu Oct 31, 2013.

SARASOTA-- It has been an alarming year for the sea's gentle giants. According to the group, Save the Manatee, 769 sea cows have died off the Florida coast in 2013, more than any other year. The number nearly doubles the amount that died in 2012.

In Sarasota County 19 manatees have died in 2013, and in Manatee County, 5 have died.

"It's tough. You never want to have a record year. Those are not records you want to set," said Gretchen Lovewell with Mote Marine Laboratory.

Lovewell assists Florida Fish and Wildlife anytime a distressed or dead Manatee is found off the Suncoast.

"We've had a couple of our really well known local manatees die this year, including one of our best moms in the area, who is pretty prolific and always had babies," said Lovewell.

The manatee, known as, Victoria, died due to red tide. According to the staggering numbers, nearly 300 died this year because of the toxic algae bloom, in addition to boat propellers and cold weather.

"It (red tide) is increasing in frequency, length, and possibly severity. I don't remember years ago when I came down here, the mass mortalities of manatees that we've had," said Marine Scientist Dr. Karen Steidinger.

While humans can't do much to protect manatees from red tide, we can slow our boats down in manatee zones and wear polarized glasses, to help us see underwater.

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