Manatee deaths decline in Florida with 2012's warm temperatures

13 percent drop in overall death tol, according to reports

Published On: Jan 09 2013 12:32:18 PM EST

Warm temperatures spared manatees in 2012 from the usual ravages of winter, with fewer dying in Florida than the previous three years. Local 6 partner Florida Today Reports.

At least 392 manatee died in state waters last year, of which a quarter died from human-related causes, according to data released this week by state wildlife officials.

That overall death toll was down from 453 in 2011, a 13 percent drop.

Only 28 manatees died statewide of stress from the cold in 2012. As many as 282 manatees died that way throughout Florida in 2010 and 114 in 2011.

State wildlife officials recorded 81 watercraft-related deaths last year, below the 88 watercraft-related deaths in 2011 and slightly below the average of 87 such deaths the past five years. Boats and other watercraft typically cause about 20 percent of all manatee deaths in Florida.

Lee County had the most watercraft-related manatee deaths: 19 of 79 deaths overall, or 24 percent.

In Brevard, they caused almost 9 percent last year. Eight manatees found within county waters died from water-craft related injuries in 2012, about an average year. Brevard had six water-craft related manatee deaths the previous year and averaged nine in the previous five years.

Overall, the county saw 91 manatee deaths in 2012, down from 99 the previous year.

Other causes of manatee deaths in Brevard included seven that died of cold stress, 18 from complications of birth, 18 from natural causes, 36 from undetermined causes, one crushed in a flood gate or canal lock, and two that died from other human causes. One carcass was not recovered.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and partners rescued 81 injured or sick manatees in 2012.

“Protecting manatees is a priority,” Maj. Jack Daugherty, FWC’s boating and waterways section leader, said in a release. “Our officers take time to patrol manatee zones, identify areas that have presented problems, and generally work with the public to educate them on how to boat safely and in a way that doesn’t harm the environment.”