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Record Manatee Deaths Spread to Florida's Atlantic Coast March 22, 2013
Dead manatee in Tempa Bay
A manatee found dead in Tampa Bay last year.
A new wave of manatee deaths has struck Florida following a string of fatalities among the marine mammals due to red tide algae blooms along the state’s southwestern beaches.

But marine biologists say they don’t know exactly what’s killing the manatees along the eastern coast since there have not been any reports of red tide there, and the weather hasn’t been cold enough to account for the deaths.

Nearly 200 manatees have died due to red tide along Florida’s Gulf Coast so far this year.

While lacking physical evidence to prove it, wildlife experts believe the deaths in eastern Florida are due to different types of algae blooms that have killed off vast amounts of sea grass the manatees typically feed on.

That may have caused the lumbering sea animals to instead ingest large amounts of macroalgae, which sent them into fatal toxic shock.

The east coast algae blooms were due to storm runoff that flushed fertilizers and other manmade nutrients into waterways.

State biologists are also trying to determine what has killed about 100 brown pelicans so far this year in the same area where the Atlantic coast manatees perished. The birds were found emaciated and full of parasites.

There is so far no connection between the pelican deaths and those of the manatees.

Photo: File