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Manatee deaths break record
One of the biggest killers of manatees are boats, which share Florida’s bays and waterways.
The recession may be leading to more of these collisions, according to Katie Tripp, Director of Science and Conservation for the Save the Manatee Club.
“People have not stopped using their boats altogether, but they’ve stopped taking those longer trips,” she said. “So instead of going offshore, they’re staying in the intercoastal waterways and in those inland waters. You’re putting more boats where there are more manatees.
As of early December, 94 manatees have been killed by boats -- just one manatee shy of breaking the record for manatees/boat collision deaths.
Tripp says it’s up to boaters to look for subtle clues which show manatees are near.
“As they move their tail up and down, manatees leave a footprint on the water, a sort of circular swirl. You might also see their nose break the surface when they come to breathe, or actually hear them breathe,” she said.
The 419 deaths is two more than the previous record, set in 2006.
Cold weather last winter also helped lead to more manatee deaths. And a record number of newborn manatees – more than 100 – died this year.
Still, Florida’s manatee population is more than twice as high as it was 20 years ago, with an estimated 3,800 manatees statewide.
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