Manatee Season Is On As Florida Faces Record Number Of Manatee Deaths

West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris), Florida, USA

Photo: Getty Images

997 manatees have died so far this year in Florida waters...a record number and it's not even close.

"This is a crisis right now so I think everything is on the table."

Sarah Marmion with FPL's Manatee Lagoon in Riviera Beach says the feds have already declared it an "unusual mortality event." NOAA is working with the FWC and other agencies to find a solution.

"Everyone needs to come together to do everything they can to address the aquatic quality problem."

A loss of seagrass is being blamed for causing a large number of manatees to starve and Sarah believes runoff from things like fertilyzer and pesticides is a big part of the problem.

The previous record of manatee deaths was 830, set in 2013 and last year fewer than five hundred died.

Monday starts Manatee Season, when the giant mammals migrate to warmer waters. Many of them gather next to FPL's Clean Energy plant, where Manatee Lagoon features a panoramic view of them swimming in the Lake Worth Lagoon, and interactive exhibits to learn more about the manatees.

The facility has just reopened after shutting down due to the pandemic.

Now in its sixth year of manatee education and environmental conservation, Manatee Lagoon is a popular community destination, which makes it an ideal place for people to learn about these beloved marine mammals.

FPL built Manatee Lagoon in 2016 as part of its environmental mission to teach the public about manatees, with a goal of inspiring communities to preserve and protect Florida’s environment and wildlife for future generations.

New for the 2021/2022 season:

Enhanced outdoor walking pathways and 3D augmented reality solar exhibit

Newly planted lush landscaping of dune sunflowers and native Florida flowering trees join solar canopies and a new augmented reality exhibit. Visitors can use their cell phones to make “Sunny” appear - a 3D animated junior solar tree who teaches about solar technology and the environmental benefits of clean energy. It’s “info-tainment” visitors of all ages can enjoy!

Self-guided tours and virtual visits

Visitors who return to the indoor portion of the facility can now enjoy self-guided tours at their convenience by scanning QR codes on signage around the building. Expert Manatee Masters will share information on a wide range of topics. For those who prefer to stay home, the educational tour videos will be offered on Manatee Lagoon’s website.

“Waterfront Walks”

Every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 a.m., visitors can participate in short walking tours along the shoreline of Manatee Lagoon. Led by Manatee Masters, guests will learn more about Lake Worth Lagoon, an extraordinary 20-mile urban estuary, which serves as home to all kinds of marine creatures, including manatees. Programming begins November 8.

“Lagoonside Chats” and new outdoor seating

Daily at 2 p.m., Manatee Masters will offer an outdoor seated talk from Manatee Lagoon’s new Adirondack seating section along the first-floor observation deck. Limited seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Programming begins November 8.

Outdoor yoga

Every Tuesday and Thursday at 5:45 p.m. and Saturday at 8 a.m., adult yoga classes are led by certified instructors against the calming backdrop of Lake Worth Lagoon. Advance registration is required as space is limited.

“Manatee Tales Story Time”

The popular storytime returns with new take-home coloring activities on Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. Listen as a Manatee Master storyteller reads from a selection of engaging books, which share stories about various aquatic species that live in the Lake Worth Lagoon and the waters beyond. Targeted for children ages 2 and older. Programming begins November 8.

Starting Nov. 1, 2021, the center is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except for major holidays, until March 31, 2022, which marks the end of manatee season. April 1 through Nov. 14, 2022, the center will observe the same hours, with the exception of Mondays when the center will be closed.

Click Here for more information on Manatee Lagoon.

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