Florida prepares to care for manatees during cold snap

27 manatee deaths reported in Florida so far this year

A group of manatees feed on lettuce as a part of Florida's experimental program to help curb manatee deaths. (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida wildlife officials say manatees are showing good signs at the temporary feeding station in Brevard County, but with another cold front on the way causing temperatures to plunge this weekend, crews are keeping a watchful eye.

Members of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said Wednesday that the team reopened the manatee feeding station at the FPL power plant in Brevard County on Dec. 16 and began supplemental feeding.

[TRENDING: FAA computer failure delays flights nationwide | This area near Disney World is the lightning capital of the US | 37 Florida Lottery winners lose money to DEO overpayments | Become a News 6 Insider]

Officials at the feeding station said they have not had any documented manatee carcass sightings, which is a good sign, especially with the cold snap over the Christmas holiday. However, they are seeing signs of manatees that might be underweight at the feeding station.

Still, From Jan. 1 to Jan. 6, FWC reported 27 manatee deaths in Florida, including five in Brevard County. In 2022, FWC reported 800 manatee deaths throughout Florida.

The team said they saw 50 to 150 manatees at any one time in the feeding area this weekend. Officials at the feeding station said they are seeing more manatees at the feeding site earlier in the year than they did last year.

“The manatees do appear to generally be in better shape overall,” said Michelle Pasawicz of the FWC. “There are some animals that are showing signs of being underweight, some cold-stress lesions, but overall there are some more positive signs that we’re seeing.”

The team said it is also seeing signs of manatees mating outside the feeding area, also a good sign, and they are actively visiting the site, even in warmer periods.

So far, 30,000 pounds of Romaine lettuce has been deployed in the feeding area. Another 25,000 pounds of lettuce was being delivered to help get the station through the week.

If you see a sick, injured, orphaned or dead manatee, call the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).

Get today’s headlines in minutes with Your Florida Daily:

About the Author:

Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.