Tallahassee, Florida (AP) — An unprecedented experimental attempt to feed manatees facing hunger in Florida began slowly, but wildlife officials said Thursday that cold weather made marine mammals warmer. I’m optimistic that it will work.
A feeding station along the east coast of the state has not seduced wild manatees with romaine lettuce, even though animals eat romaine lettuce in captivity, officials said at a remote press conference. Stated.
Water pollution from agriculture, cities and other water sources caused an outbreak of algae that destroyed the seagrass beds on which manatees depend, leading to record 1,101 manatee deaths in 2021, primarily due to hunger. A typical five-year average is about 625 deaths.
This has enabled a lettuce feeding program that is part of Manatee’s joint mortality response group led by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the US Department of Fish and Wildlife. It remains a violation of state and federal law for people to feed their own manatees.
“There are no records of animals feeding on lettuce,” said Ron Meszic, head of the collaborative provisioning department. “We know that manatees eat lettuce.”
During the winter, hundreds of manatees tend to collect in warm water from natural hot springs and power plant effluents. The animals have become more dispersed as this winter has been unusually calm in Florida so far.
“They are moving, but not yet under pressure from the cold,” said Tom Reinert, FWC’s South Regional Director. “We expect it to happen.”
In addition to feeding experiments, authorities are working with many facilities to rehabilitate suffering manatees that have been found to be alive. These include Florida Zoos, Sea World Theme Parks and Oceanariums. In 2021, there were 159 rescued manatees, some of whom required long care and some were returned to the wild, officials said.
“Our facility is at or near capacity,” said Andy Garrett, responsible for rescue and restoration. “These animals need long-term care. The work so far has been enormous.”
According to state statistics, there are currently at least 7,520 manatees in Florida’s waters. The slow-moving round-tailed ground lizard has been pushed to restore the endangered species tag in light of starvation, but has rebounded enough to be listed as endangered rather than endangered. ..
Authorities have also used $ 8 million in state funding for several projects aimed at restoring manatee habitat and planting new seagrass beds, a slow process and pollution. It will not finally solve the problem until the water is improved.
People can report manatees that may be suffering by calling the wildlife hotline 888-404-3092. Other ways to help are to donate through a state-sponsored fund or buy a Save the Manatee vehicle license plate.
Authorities say it’s better to do more harm than good because animals connect humans to food rather than feeding manatees personally. People and manatees have struggled to coexist for decades.
“This is a very serious situation,” Reinert said. “Use your dollars, not the lettuce head.”
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Manatee feeding experiments begin slowly as the cold approaches. WGN Radio 720
Source link Manatee feeding experiments begin slowly as the cold approaches. WGN Radio 720