Subject: Manatee deaths (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Mon, 8 Sep 1997 12:45:36 -0400 (EDT)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 8 Sep 1997 11:40:57 +0000
Subject: Question about Manatee deaths

Your question was:

I have a question about the death of manatees. In 1996 alone there were
more deaths than any other two years combined. I just wondered what made
the number of 413 deaths in 1996 and the 65 deaths in 1980 why are they
so diffeerent? What causes that? I just didn't know and thoght that you
may beable to helpme. Thank You,

Julia Crane
Bartlesville Oklahoma

My answer is:

      A single catastrophic event in 1996 was responsible for 151 
manatee deaths.  These manatee deaths were attributed to red tide, a 
term used for the proliferation or "blooms" of tiny marine organisms 
called dinoflagellates. Microscopic, but found in great abundance, 
they give off a toxic byproduct that affects the central nervous 
system of creatures in the area of the bloom.  The red tide epizootic 
began on March 5 and continued through April 28 along Florida's 
southwest coast, wiping out approximately 15% of the known west coast 
population of manatees.  Last year, 1996, was also a record year for 
manatee mortalities caused by watercraft collisions.  Sixty manatees 
were killed by watercraft collisions. 
     There are two reasons why there is such a big difference between 
the manatee mortalities recorded in 1980 compared to those recorded 
in 1996.  One reason is that researchers did not begin to 
track manatee mortalities until 1974, so the tracking system then was 
not as good as the one in place today.  The other reason is that the 
total number of manatee mortalities have steadily been increasing 
over the years.    

Nancy Sadusky

     Communications Director
      Save the Manatee Club
       500 N. Maitland Ave.
       Maitland, FL  32751
      1-800-432-JOIN (5646)