35 manatee deaths in January blamed on cold weather
Cold waters in January caused the deaths of 35 manatees across Florida, wildlife officials say.
The animals died due to cold stress syndrome brought on by low water temperatures, the Bradenton Herald reports. The deaths occurred between Jan. 1 and Jan. 26, according to a preliminary report released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Officials say there were five times as many manatee deaths last month compared to the same timeframe in 2017, the Associated Press reports. However, it’s still much less than the 151 manatees killed by a cold snap in January 2010.
Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed that water temperatures never climbed above 67.1 degrees at Port Manatee in January, according to the Herald. The average temperature was 57.6 degrees.
Cold stress syndrome can occur when marine mammals are immersed in water below 68 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended period of time. Manatees begin to experience hypothermia, which causes their organs to fail and their skin to slough off.
In total, 87 manatees were found dead across the Sunshine State last month, the Herald reports. The deaths are measured in eight categories, ranging from natural to undetermined.
Wildlife officials told the AP that boat collisions killed 10 of the animals statewide last month.