Unusual weather takes its toll on gentle aquatic mammals

All About Animals

POSTED: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 8:00pm

UPDATED: Monday, February 25, 2013 - 8:04pm

 Manatees are dying in surprising numbers in Florida's Brevard County.

Of the four dead manatees reported, one was only about two weeks old.

"This one is likely cold stress," said state biologist Ann Spellman. It's definitely underweight and has cold stress sores on its face.

"We've had a lot of manatee deaths. It has been unusually high all around the state," said state biologist Jackie Ludema.

Biologists said the number of the dead endangered species would be 40 for this year alone by the end of the day, even though the winter has been relatively warm.

It's not so much how cold it got, but its the warm weather followed by the cold weather.

The warm weather brings the manatees out to places where they are more vulnerable. The manatees then get caught too far away from warm water near power plants.

Critics of the state's manatee protection efforts said the power plants have changed the manatees' habits, keeping many from migrating to South Florida.

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