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Manatees Fighting for their Lives

January 7th, 2010 by flanews

2009 was the deadliest year in state history for manatees. 429 were found dead in Florida waterways, about a hundred were victims of careless boaters. 2010 is also getting off to a shaky start for the mammals. As Whitney Ray tells us, the cold weather has manatees fighting for their lives.

Manatees are making a comeback in Florida. A quick counting expedition early last year found 38-hundred in the state, a record high. There are even large herds being found in the Panhandle.

But along with the record high numbers comes a spike in deaths. Last year 429 manatees died in Florida waterways. Boaters claimed a hundred lives while the cold weather is being blamed for 56 deaths.

This week’s freezing temperatures have put thousands of manatees in a fight for their lives. When manatees find a warm spot they hunker down for hours. Wildlife experts are asking people to stay away from manatees they see lingering.

“Even if they are leaving to go out and get a little food they are going to be coming back because it will be cold through next week. So please do whatever people can do to stay away and be quiet and leave them alone,” said Carol Knox, a biological administrator with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation.

And for gawkers not willing to mind their own business, wildlife officers will be on hand to write citations or arrest anyone breaking the law. Patrols in areas with large populations of manatees will be beefed up throughout January. Wildlife officers are taking a zero tolerance approach to speeding.

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