98 Manatees Have Been Killed By Boaters This Year
A record 98 manatees have died this year, and the year isn’t even over yet. In 2009, boaters killed 97 manatees in Florida, that was the record until now.
On December 2nd the 98th manatee, an adult female, was found dead in Fort Lauderdale’s Stranahan River.
Majority of these manatees killed by boats are hit by the skeg, which shatters their bones. Some of the shattered shards of bone can be drove into their heart and lungs. However, this female manatee, that was more than 10 feet long, was killed by “acute trauma by a propeller,” said Martine de Wit, the veterinarian who heads the state’s Marine Mammal Pathology Laboratory in St. Petersburg.
She told the Tampa Bay Times, “this was the less common type of trauma.”
The death comes as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been considering taking manatees off its endangered list and classifying them as “threatened.”
“Watercraft collisions are the major threat to the manatee, long-term,” de Wit said to the Times.
A federal study said 12 manatee deaths by boat would mark the most deaths caused by humans that Florida manatees could tolerate without risking extinction, but this year’s 98 deaths exceed that.
So far this year’s boat-related deaths are 11 more than last year’s toll and beyond higher than the 69 in 2014.
Some of Florida’s coastlines have posted more deaths than other coastlines this year. Lee County posted 18 casualties while Volusia has 12 and Monroe has 10. In Tampa there were seven manatees killed by boats in Hillsborough County waters and two deaths in Pinellas.
De Wit said one reason for the high number of deaths is that there are more manatees now than there used to be. An aerial survey obtained by the Times showed a record 6,250 swimming in the state’s waterways.
Patrick Rose, executive director of the Save the Manatee Club, and de Wit said the economy is another contributor. With lower gas prices there are more boats out on the water. Waterfront developments also push manatees out of living areas and put more boats in those same areas.