Report: Manatee boat deaths on pace to set record in Florida

86 sea cows killed in first 6 months of 2019

Boats are to blame for many of the manatee deaths that have occurred so far this year.

Florida is on pace to break the record for manatee boat deaths in a year, with 86 struck and killed through June, the Fort Myers News-Press reported. 

Brevard and Volusia counties have each recorded nine manatee boat deaths through June, but Lee County leads the state with 21 boat kills, the newspaper reported.

This year's pace would put manatee boat deaths at 172, far surpassing 122 in 2018.

Last year, there were a total of 824 manatee deaths documented. The record, set in 2013, is 830. 

Dr. Katie Tripp, director of science and conservation for Save the Manatee Club, said that accurate mapping of manatee watercraft deaths can be perplexing because the location where the sea cow is found is often different than where it was hit.

"Here in Volusia, four of our nine manatee watercraft deaths this year have been down by the Mosquito Lagoon. The reason we're seeing more manatees in that particular area is that Manatees are coming up from Brevard County where we've lost the sea grass," Tripp said.

She urged Floridians to be vigilant.

"If people can just keep manatees on their mind when they're out on the water, we hope not to have another record year," Tripp said.