Demand Florida Agency Control Deadly Algae Outbreak to Save Manatees

manatee

Target: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)

Goal: Manage lethal algae outbreaks in waterways that are killing manatees.

An outbreak of deadly algae, also known as red tide, is spreading along the west coast of Florida and killing dozens of manatees. It has been reported that 149 manatees have been killed by red tide in just two and a half months. Manatees are an endangered species and must be protected from red tide. Urge the FWC to alleviate the situation by controlling the spread of red tide and cleaning infected areas.

Red tide occurs when large concentrations of algae bloom and grow in dense patches on water surfaces. These algae, often red or brown in color, accumulate rapidly along coastal areas and can be dangerous to the environment. Red tide contains a deadly toxin that, when ingested, paralyzes the central nervous system of aquatic organisms, causing suffocation and drowning. In Florida, toxins from the bloom likely settled onto the sea grass that manatees eat, causing them to become paralyzed, lose coordination and the ability to swim to the surface to breathe, and eventually drown.

If treated early, inflicted manatees can be saved. However, the deadly red tide covers roughly 70 miles along the West Coast of Florida in warm waters where manatees typically congregate during the winter. This wide spread of red tide has the potential to kill hundreds of manatees. In a population of only 4,000 in Florida, a loss of several hundred individuals could potentially send the species into near-extinction. Therefore, FWC scientists should be making an effort in controlling the red tide spread and clearing out infected areas, in addition to treating infected manatees.

There is evidence that links red tide to agricultural runoff, which contains nutrients that feed the algae. FWC officials should make sure that nearby agricultural lands and factories are not directly polluting coastal waters in efforts to prevent future red tide outbreaks. FWC officials should also begin cleaning up algae blooms along the coast to reduce the chances of manatees becoming infected. Sign the petition below to ask the FWC to take action and control the lethal red tide outbreak that is killing manatees.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission,

I was disheartened to hear about the recent deaths of 149 manatees in Florida. These creatures died from red tide poisoning in just two and a half months. As you may know, red tide is extremely lethal to marine life. Red tide occurs when large concentrations of algae grow in dense patches on the water surface. There is a toxin in the algae that paralyzes the central nervous system. It is likely that Florida manatees have been ingesting this toxin while eating sea grass, and as a result, lose coordination, become paralyzed, and drown.

There are only 4,000 manatees left in Florida. These endangered animals must be protected from red tide. Inflicted individuals can be saved if treated early. However, it is important to address the root of the problem. The current red tide outbreak spreads over 70 miles of coastal waters. This large outbreak has the potential to kill hundreds of manatees. FWC scientists should be making an effort to control the red tide spread and clear out infected areas. Officials should begin cleaning up algae blooms along the coast, and also making sure that nearby agricultural lands are not directly polluting coastal waters. In addition to treating inflicted manatees, please consider managing the lethal red tide outbreak in an effort to save hundreds of manatees.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Allie_Caulfield via Flickr

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