Jan 19, 2009

Baby manatee deaths are baffling to Florida state authorities

A record number of baby manatees were found dead last year, despite strenuous public and private efforts to restore a species that ranks with the panther and alligator as a symbol of wild Florida.

State wildlife officers recovered 101 infant manatee carcasses in 2008, up from 59 the previous year. The young manatees died from a variety of natural causes — although decomposition was too far advanced to tell what killed many of them — and no one knows the reason for the sudden increase or whether it indicates any new threat to the species.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which tracks manatee deaths, says the high number may simply be a result of more manatee births or more success in finding carcasses. But The Save the Manatee Club said it could be an indirect result of boat strikes, habitat loss and other threats that have shortened the endangered mammals' life spans, reducing the number of experienced mothers bearing calves.
From Carcasses of babies are up dramatically; explanation a mystery
David Fleshler, South Florida Sun-Sentinel 18 Jan 09;
Full article also on the wildsingapore news blog.

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