Subject: Info: Florida manatee die-off may be (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Wed, 20 Mar 1996 16:44:39 -0500 (EST)

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Date: Wed, 20 Mar 96 03:29:00 UTC 0000
Subject: Florida manatee die-off may be

Florida manatee die-off may be ending

   TALLAHASSEE, Fla., March 18 (UPI) -- There are indications a rash of
mysterious manatee deaths along Florida's southwestern coast may be
coming to an end, environmental officials reported Monday.
   Since March 5, 51 endangered seacows have been found dead near the
city of Fort Myers, on Florida's Gulf Coast.
   Scientists had not learned the results of tests on tissue samples
taken from the carcasses by midday Monday and said they did not know why
the manatees apparently developed pneumonia and died.
   But a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Environmental
Protection said biologists believed few additional dead manatees would
be found.
   "We believe that whatever it was that was killing them is phasing
out, because the last five carcasses that were retrieved were badly
decomposed," said Edie Ousley.
   "That could be a good indication that whatever it was has run its
course," she added.
   Last week, biologists had set up a makeshift morgue at the Ding
Darling National Wildlife Preserve on Sanibel Island in the Gulf of
Mexico, where they took samples of each animal's organs, blood and
tissue and sent them to labs for further examination.
   The results of necropsies performed on the manatees were expected to
be known by Tuesday.
   Not since scientists began keeping records 20 years ago have so many
manatees died in such a short period. Mortality among Florida manatees
is normally 150 to 200 annually.
   Both males and females have died, and all were well-nourished with no
other disease or injury, scientists said.