Florida's state marine mammal is the manatee. They are nicknamed sea cows but are actually a distant relative to elephants. They are huge, slow, intelligent, peaceful, and gentle creatures. They love to interact with humans.
Photo taken at Mote Marine Aquarium, Sarasota Florida
Manatees were moved off the endangered list and downgraded to threatened in 2017. That was great news, but things aren't looking very good this year. As of today, 649 manatees have been found dead in Florida so far in 2021. Last year 637 were found the entire year. Sadly, there are always manatee deaths from boat injuries, but currently most of the manatees who have died this year are believed to be starving to death from a lack of seagrass due to water pollution.
I can imagine these numbers are about to go way up with the recent 200 million gallons of wastewater that have been dumped in Tampa Bay. I can't even imagine what kind of environmental impact that is going to have.
This is a heartbreaking topic for me and leaves me feeling so helpless. It's one more big red flag, like so many others across our country and our planet, warning us to do something and fast - before it's too late!
More Florida A to Z on the way tomorrow.