SATELLITE BEACH, Fla. – Satellite Beach police are urging people not to feed the manatees after water hyacinth, a highly invasive plant, was found dumped in an area canal.
Both feeding manatees and having any quantity of water hyacinth is illegal in Florida, as it poses a threat to local wildlife and waterways, police said.
According to the police department, water hyacinth was found in the DeSoto Park canal. Police said this plant has the potential to “completely take over the canal, infest the wetlands, and outcompete our native aquatic species.”
The increased concentration of this invasive plant would reduce oxygen levels for native aquatic wildlife and foster a new habitat for disease-carrying mosquitoes, police said.
Stel Bailey of environmental non-profit Fight For Zero said she’s watched people feed manatees lettuce, spinach and kale. Wildlife authorities are experimenting with feeding manatees but said it’s only a short-term solution.
‘’The community is at a point of desperation because they just want to help,’’ Bailey said. ‘’They’re sick of standing by and seeing these manatees die in their own backyard.’’
The FWC reported 120 manatees died in Florida in January, more than 2/3 of those deaths in Brevard County.
‘’If you see a manatee in trouble, you should contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and they will send out the trained, permitted responders,’’ Jaclyn Lopez with the Center for Biological Diversity said.
For more information on how to help the manatee population in a safe manner, please visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website.