One of the worst years for manatees ever

The end of 2021 marks one of the grimmest years for Florida manatees. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, nearly 1,000 manatees have died this year. That's more than double the five-year annual average.

Two Florida manatees floating in water
More than 1,100 manatees died in Florida over the course of 2021. Photo credit: Andrew Imanaka via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0

The end of 2021 marks one of the grimmest years for Florida manatees.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, more than 1,100 manatees died over the course of 2021. That’s more than double the five-year annual average.

Facing threats from toxic algae blooms, habitat loss and boat strikes, manatees are dying at a record pace. To protect these gentle sea cows and the ecosystems that depend on them, we’re calling on Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to restore manatees’ endangered species protections. 

Our sea cows are starving

Manatees feed mostly on seagrass, beds of which have been smothered by pollutants along with outbreaks of toxic algae intensified by climate change. Unable to find food, hundreds of manatees have starved to death.

Despite this, four years ago, the Trump administration downlisted manatees from an endangered to a threatened species. The decision was made against the objections of environmentalists and biologists alike, and it has brought manatees one step closer to extinction.

Reversing the decline

Restoring manatees’ endangered species status is critical to ensuring 2022 is a better year for these gentle and graceful creatures. 

Having that status restored will mean that manatees’ critical habitat will be protected and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be directed to administer a recovery plan.


Carson Kahoe

Creative Associate, Editorial & Creative Team, The Public Interest Network

Carson writes, edits and designs materials with the Creative Team for The Public Interest Network on behalf of organizations including Environmental Action, Fair Share and Green Corps. Currently based in Boston with his fiancée, Carson enjoys hiking, photography, and getting pulled down the street by his much stronger dog.

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