Subject: Info:Manatee death toll continues t (fwd)

Michael Williamson (pita@whale.simmons.edu)
Wed, 27 Mar 1996 12:54:31 -0500 (EST)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 27 Mar 96 12:23:00 UTC 0000
From: r.mallon1@genie.com
To: marmam@uvvm.uvic.ca, pita@whale.simmons.edu
Subject: Manatee death toll continues t

Manatee death toll continues to rise

   TALLAHASSEE, Fla., March 26 (UPI) -- More dead manatees were found
Tuesday in waters along Florida's southwest Gulf coast, the apparent
victims of the same mysterious epidemic that killed scores of the
endangered mammals earlier this month.
   About 20 manatee carcasses have been found since Friday near the city
of Ft. Myers, according to the Florida Department of Environmental
Protection.
   The manatee death toll in the region since March 5 now stands near
80, marking the first time on record so many of the sea cows have died
in such a short period.
   Mortality among Florida mantees normally runns between 150 to 200
annually.
   Necropsies indicated the otherwise healthy mammals perished from a
pneumonia-like illness that bloodied and scarred their lungs.
   Marine scientists have not been able to identify the source of the
illness, but have said unusually cold weather and an outbreak of red
tide in the Gulf of Mexico did not play a role in the deaths.
   "We've narrowed the source down to a virus or bacteria, but we have
not been able to determine the specific virus or bacteria involved, or
its source," said Edie Ousley, spokeswoman for DEP.
   As part of their effort to determine the cause of the epidemic, state
biologists have sent tissue samples from the manatee carcasses to
laboratories as far away as Holland for analysis.
   Authorities last week had thought the epidemic was coming to an end,
when the number of dead manatees being found dropped from from about 10
a day to one or two daily.
   But the number of fresh carcasses began rising again on Friday,
according to the chief of the Florida Marine Research Institute in St.
Petersburg.
   "We are concerned now that there's some continuing mortality from
the epidemic," said Ken Haddad.
   "We just don't have a feel for what this means," he added.
   The epidemic has so far been confined to a 25 mile stretch near Ft.
Myers, and scientists doubt the illness will spread to manatee
populations elsewhere in the state.
   Manatees are an endangered species whose population in Florida waters
numbers about 2,600.
   In previous years, the leading killer of manatees has been motorboat
propellers.