Subject: Info:Manatee Die-Off (fwd)

Michael Williamson (
Tue, 21 May 1996 13:19:32 -0400 (EDT)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 17 May 96 03:52:00 UTC 0000
Subject: Manatee Die-Off

Manatee Die-Off

   ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- A mysterious epidemic that killed
265 manatees in Florida this spring appears to have ended.
   Scientists were cautiously optimistic Monday after 18 days
without finding any additional carcasses of the slow-moving sea
   But with an estimated 3,000 manatees in the wild, U.S. Interior
Secretary Bruce Babbitt said Monday the deadly epidemic was a
matter of national concern.
   "A 10 percent die-off; that is really cause for alarm,"
Babbitt said while touring the Florida Marine Research Institute,
where scientists were testing carcasses to investigate the epidemic
in Southwest Florida waterways.
   "The longterm recovery of these gentle creatures is a priority
for the Department," Babbitt said. "We have our best biological
research scientists delving into this die-off with hopes of finding
a solution to avoid it ever recurring."
   Extensive laboratory tests on scores of blood and tissue samples
have not been able to determine a cause.Virginia Wetherell, Florida Department
of Environmental
secretary, said researchers are testing for a contaminant, an
infectious agent, flu viruses and red tide, a toxic micro-organism
that accumulates in shellfish.
   The manatees migrate from the Carolinas to Florida every winter
and huddle in warm water when the temperature dips. In 1990, 206
manatees died, mostly from cold water stress and crashes with