MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — It’s no secret— manatees are a Florida favorite.

“They are the most docile creatures,” Aquatic Biologist Patrick Rose said. 

However, an urgency to help save them is unlike ever before.

What You Need To Know

  • 200 manatee have died this month at the Indian River

  • 637 died in all of 2020

  • Experts say they're starving because algae killed the sea grass they feed on

Rose has dedicated his career to the beloved sea cow. He's president of the Save the Manatee Club.

“This is a wake up call, it must be,” he said.

So far this month, over 200 manatees died at the Indian River in Central Florida. So far this year, 488 manatees have died. 637 manatees died in all of 2020.

FWC said it was mainly of starvation. 

“We have an ecosystem collapse on our hands,” Jaclyn Lopez, president of the Center for Biological Diversity, said.

Lopez explains that during colder months, manatees swim to the center of the state for warm water. But because of a brown algae bloom, there was no sea grass this year, and the manatees only food source was gone. 

FWC said many manatees were starving for months as they opted to stay warm instead of seeking out food. 

“It’s a very, very bleak situation,” Rose said. “There are still so many manatees that need medical attention.” 

How does the algae stop blooming? That’s the tough part. 

Rose and Lopez attribute it to pollution being pumped into the river. 

Now, the duo is working to get as many manatees out of Central Florida and into rehabilitation facilities. 

“There aren’t enough facilities in the state to help all the manatees right now,” Rose said. “We continue to survey the area to see how many are still out there.” 

Rose is pushing state and federal agencies to enforce current water quality laws, in hopes the river will reclaim itself by next winter.

“We have all the tools we need, we just need the political will and commitment to enforce it,” says Lopez.

She said residents can message their local congressperson to push the issue, too. 

To donate to the Save The Manatee Club, and their efforts, click here