Manatee deaths are on the increase this year, having risen by 18 percent compared to last year, according to mortality data released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
From Feb. 1 to Nov. 4 in Manatee County, 12 manatees died out of 435 across the state. Three died of natural causes; one died of cold stress syndrome; two died within weeks of birth; two causes of death were undetermined; and four were hit by watercraft.
The most deaths occurred on Florida’s east coast. About 21 percent of Florida manatee deaths this year were reported in Brevard County with 92 deaths. The county is where manatees in Indian River Lagoon were dying of an unknown cause.
The worst year for manatees was 830 deaths in 2013 when red tide was to blame.