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Cold weather leads to record manatee deaths in 2010 | Environment

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Cold weather leads to record manatee deaths in 2010
Environment, Events, News
Cold weather leads to record manatee deaths in 2010

APOLLO BEACH, Florida -- Two periods of unusually cold weather in 2010 contributed to a record-breaking 767 manatee deaths which is more than double the yearly average of the past five years, according to a report released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Institute (FWRI).  

The cold weather last winter was responsible for 244 manatee deaths with 35 occuring this past December.

Cold weather also contributed to the deaths of 21 of the 96 manatees in the "perinatal" or "newborn" category.

In addition, it is likely the cold temperatures contributed to many of the 214 deaths in the "undetermined" category and the 68 deaths in the "unrecovered" category.

The FWC is "concerned" about the high number of manatee deaths, FWRI Director Gil McRae said in a press release.

"Over the next few years, the FWC will be relying heavily on monitoring programs to better understand any long-term implications for the manatee population," said McRae.  

FWC researchers, managers and law enforcement staff work closely together to evaluate mortality data and identify necessary actions.

Usually when the water temp reaches below 68 degrees manatees head towards warmer waters near power plants to seek refuge.

Tampa Electric's Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach has been a haven for manatees for the past 24 years. On Jan. 15 and 16, the center will celebrate is 25th Anniversary as a winter refuge with a viewing party. 

The Manatee Viewing Center will be opened an extra hour, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and include arts and crafts, children's activities, and free parking and admission.

To learn more about manatee conservation, go to MyFWC.com/Manatee. To view the 2010 preliminary mortality numbers as well as a Web article detailing the cold-related manatee die-off in early 2010, visit http://research.MyFWC.com/manatee and click on "Manatee Mortality Statistics".

To report a dead or distressed manatee, call the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922). 

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