Subject: Info: Manatee epidemic continues (fwd)

Michael Williamson (pita@whale.simmons.edu)
Fri, 19 Apr 1996 13:31:45 -0400 (EDT)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 96 11:20:00 UTC 0000
From: r.mallon1@genie.com
To: marmam@uvvm.uvic.ca, pita@whale.simmons.edu
Subject: Manatee epidemic continues

Manatee epidemic continues

By JOSEPH CHRYSDALE
   ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., April 18 (UPI) -- As manatees continue dying in
record numbers off Florida's west coast, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service Thursday announced a $15,000 grant to fund further emergency
research by the state.
   Pathologist Scott Wright of the state Department of Environmental
Protection said the year's manatee death toll rose to 238 Wednesday
night with the discovery of another carcass off Florida's southwest
coast.
   The state's worst year on record for the endangered species was 206
in 1990.
   Wright said a battery of tests on corpses have either been
inconclusive or yielded results for which there is no comparative data.
   However, there is one consistency among the epidemic victims:
   "These animals have lung lesions (that) are killing the animals,"
he said. "Technically, it's not precisely pneumonia (but) pulmonary
congestion and hemorrhage."
   Researchers at the Florida Marine Research Facility have concluded
the manatees succumb quickly, as marine and aerial surveys of the waters
showed no prevalence of sick animals.
   All of the dead manatees have been adults, which could impact
breeding patterns. The most recent census -- conducted before the
epidemic -- estimated there were 2,600 of the seagrass-eating mammals
left.
   Both Wright and research institute chief Ken Haddad said the crisis
created an economic crisis of its own, which is being tallied this week.
   "(Costs) are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars when you start
wrapping up all the analyses that have to be completed, and the wear and
tear. We're wearing out vehicles carrying manatees," Haddad said,
adding it's likely the institute will request at least another $100,000
from the state.
   Wright said the institute had conducted a year's worth of work in the
past four months, with approximately 150 people on the project.
   But the state has allies from other government and non-governmental
agencies, including Sea World of Orlando and the Miami Seaquarium, the
universities of Florida and Miami, the Armed Forces Institute of
Pathology and Erasmus University of the Netherlands.
   State scientists are also being assisted by the U.S. Department of
Agriculture, National Marine Fisheries Service and the National
Biological Survey.
   Funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife disbursement will be used for
thousands of pounds of ice to keep carcasses fresh for necropsies,
rental charges for aircraft aerial surveys and gasoline for crisis
response vehicles.