SATELLITE BEACH, Fla. — It's been a bad year so far for manatees in Brevard County, with deaths skyrocketing.
What You Need To Know
- FWC: Numerous cold snaps with little warming trends in between
- Manatees are in danger of cold stress if the waters of their habits go below 68 degrees for extended length of time
- Manatees with cold stress typically have bleaching on their skin, visible abscesses, unresolved sores, a heavy barnacle or algae load, and are underweight
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says 64 manatees have died since the beginning of January.
That's compared to just seven deaths this time last year.
"The smaller ones who don't have quite the size of body mass, we are seeing that type of class," said Brevard-based FWC Marine Mammal Biologist Bill Greer.
Researchers say it all has to do with the numerous cold snaps that have come through, with little warming trends in between them.
Manatees are in danger of getting "cold stress" if the waters of their habitats, like the Indian River, go below 68 degrees for extended amounts of time.
"Unfortunately the water temps have not had the time to rise between the cold fronts. When they come through it's just dropping it a little bit more," said Greer.
Greer says they have rescued seven "cold shocked" manatees this year who are being rehabilitated.
Wednesday was a peaceful day for Patty Hamman and brother Mark of Ohio, who are staying beachside in Brevard for a few weeks this winter.
Their goal this day, spot some manatees.
Their destination — Satellite Beach's Desoto canal, a frequent spot for the animals to huddle when it's cold.
No luck though Wednesday, as it's warm enough for the manatees to stay out in the Indian River.
"It's very unfortunate they've had more deaths this year," Hamman said. "Looks like the next few days might be a little cooler, so we will come over and take a look."
Per the FWC, manatees with cold stress typically have bleaching on their skin, visible abscesses, unresolved sores, a heavy barnacle or algae load, and are underweight.
If you see a manatee in distress call the FWC hotline at 888-404-3922.