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Florida boaters kill record number of manatees in 2019

129 deaths tops mark set in 2018

This file photos shows a group of manatees in a canal where discharge from a nearby Florida Power & Light plant warms the water in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
This file photos shows a group of manatees in a canal where discharge from a nearby Florida Power & Light plant warms the water in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

MIAMI – Florida boaters broke a record this year, killing more manatees in 2019 than in past years.

Wildlife officials say boaters hit and killed 129 manatees so far this year. That tops the previous record of 125 deaths last year.

The five-year average was 95 boat-related manatee deaths.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the leading cause of death last year for manatees was natural causes, which killed 230.

The News-Journal reports 53 manatees died from cold weather this year.

Boating advocates have pushed back against go-slow zones, arguing that more are dying because there isn’t enough seagrass to feed them.