Manatee deaths on rise in 2020

More manatees died in the first half of 2020 than in the first half of any of the past five years, except 2018.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reported 367 manatees died between Jan. 1 and July 10.

For the same period in 2019, 329 manatees died and the five-year average is 345.

In the first half of 2018, 459 manatees died, but the numbers spiked even higher in the second half of the year, with either red tide or blue-green algae plaguing parts of southwest Florida.

The FWC attributed about 10% or 38 of the manatee deaths to watercraft collisions.

Cold stress led to 38 deaths and 67 deaths were perinatal.

In Manatee County, the state reported 11 manatee deaths for the first half of 2020.