(Photo by EVA MARIE UZCATEGUI / . via .)
Florida manatees are dying. In really surprising numbers: at the end of last May, more manatees had already died in this area than in the entire year 2020, and according to predictions, more of these animals are on the way to dying this year than in any other in which we have record, surpassing the record set in 2018
Algae are actually killing them … but not directly. The algae are growing excessively, in the form of blooms that occupy the entire ecosystem. And in doing so, they absorb all the nutrients. Seagrass beds, which are a favorite food for manatees, have nothing to grow with. And therefore, manatees are starving.
This situation is not really new – We have already commented that in 2018 the terrible previous record of 804 manatees killed was set. Many nutrients accumulate on the coasts of Florida, reaching there from the mainland as a result of fertilizers from crops.: these fertilizers are used in crops, the rain washes them, they wash towards the sea, and there they feed the algae. That they take advantage of them better than anyone else, they grow excessively and prevent other species from growing.
But in this case there is one more factor that worsens the situation: algae are also growing that is arriving from the continent. Many algae of the type of blue-green algae or cyanobacteria have reached coastal ecosystems from rivers – which are bacteria but capable of photosynthesis. This further complicates the situation for the seagrass beds that manatees feed on.
In this way, more than 323 square kilometers of marine ecosystem have been lost in the Indian River area, an area highly frequented by manatees.. The seagrasses and the ecological communities that settle on them, among which are manatees, are suffering seriously.
As if that were not enough, there is still something more. According to a study by the Florida Center for Biological Diversity, pesticide samples are found in 55% of manatees they have studied. These substances are also washed out from the mainland, posing an added problem for both manatees and ecosystems.
Taken as a whole, the situation for manatees is not encouraging at all. Let’s hope that the efforts that some environmental and conservation groups are putting in place can serve to improve their future.
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