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Water-Related News

Scientists puzzled by mysterious ailment killing manatees on East Coast

By Craig Pittman

Even as a Red Tide algae bloom is wiping out a record number of manatees in southwest Florida, a mysterious ailment is killing off dozens more manatees on the state's East Coast. So far, state biologists have been unable to pinpoint what killed them.

Pat Rose, a former government manatee biologist who is now executive director of the Save the Manatee Club, said he could not recall another time when manatees were being killed under similar circumstances on both coasts at the same time.

Since last July, 55 manatees have died of similar symptoms in the Indian River Lagoon area — 25 of them in just the past month, according to Kevin Baxter, a spokesman for the state's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg.