BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Florida wildlife officials will use a popular warm spot for manatees as a station this winter to test a new feeding program.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will establish a temporary field response station at Florida Power and Light’s Cape Canaveral Clean Energy Center in Brevard County.
The plant is a popular place for manatees seeking warmer waters in the winter because of the plant’s warm water discharge.
This makes it a useful spot to test a small supplemental feeding operation.
Manatees are starving and dying in record numbers in Florida, particularly in the Indian River Lagoon where there is a massive loss of seagrass, which is the primary food source for manatees there.
The latest statistics show around 1,038 manatees have died so far in 2021.
Officials hope the small-scale feeding trial will reduce manatee mortality, and reduce the number of animals in need of rescue. The program was approved last week.
The station will also support limited field health assessments, but veterinary care and rehabilitation will take place at other facilities.
FPL is also donating $700,000 over the next three years to help with manatee rescue and habitat restoration.
People can report injured, distressed, or dead manatees to the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.