Subject: Manatee Deaths
Sun, 12 Jan 97 17:45:00 GMT

Manatee Deaths

   MIAMI (AP) -- Just as manatees were making a comeback, deaths of
the endangered, walrus-sized mammals set a record in 1996.
   Though the manatee population reached a record 2,639 last year,
415 died -- more than twice as many the previous record of 206
deaths in 1990, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection
said Friday.
   Microorganisms dubbed "red tide" emitted so much toxin that it
killed 151 manatees in Southwest Florida, scientists said.
   And the ever-increasing number of boats on Florida's waterways
remained a major culprit -- 60 manatees were killed by boats in
1996, the most ever since scientists began manatee counts in 1974.
   Another 204 manatees died from natural causes, cold-weather
stress and other undetermined causes.
   Even without red tide, the manatee death count set a record,
noted Scott Wright, a scientist with the Florida Marine Research
Institute in St. Petersburg. "Of course, with it, it becomes
astronomical," he said.
   State andfederal laws passed in the 1970s to protect the
endangered manatee have resulted in population increases of 1
percent to 4 percent a year. Manatees can reach up to 12 feet and
weigh up to 500 pounds.