BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – A morbid find on the banks of a Brevard County spoil island, and now an alarming number of dead manatees is a call for action.
What You Need To Know
- Manatees are dying at an alarming rate due to starvation
- The remains of several manatees have been found on the shore north of Manatee Cove Park
- FWC says a record 200 manatees have died in the lagoon this year
- RELATED: Manatee Deaths on the Rise and Researchers are Concerned
"I've never seen anything like this, I don't think anyone has, this is a die off nobody has ever seen before," says Phil Stasik of the KSC Barracudas Dive Team.
Stasik, who along with his wife, was on the water with Calypso Kayaking in late February when he was told about the gruesome find—13 dead manatees on the shoreline.
The animals have been decaying on the isolated stretch of sand north of Manatee Cove Park ever since.
"Our beautiful, local manatees are dying in numbers we've never seen before," Stasik said. "They don't have anything to eat, their food source has been cut off."
Per Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a record 200 manatees have died in the lagoon so far this year.
Experts say the deaths are the result of starvation due to the lack of sea grass in the Indian River Lagoon. Pollution is creating ongoing algae blooms and clouding the waters, preventing sunlight from getting to the bottom. The lack of food is forcing manatees to swim away from warmer waters, and the cooler water is shocking their systems into cold stress.
For Stasik, he says people need to open their eyes to this very real problem.
"This isn't just here on Merritt Island, or Brevard County, this is across the entire Indian River Lagoon," he said. "This is another sign we are killing our lagoon."
If you see a dead manatee, you are urged to contact FWC immediately.