There are a couple of things happening in the water that have me worried.
First, the manatees. I can’t look at one and not smile. They’re just big, gentle creatures. The loss of them this year is really quite sad. The reason for it is even more upsetting.
Besides the usual boat accidents, manatees are starving to death. Starving!
So far this year, 841 manatees have died. Compare that to all of last year when we lost 637 manatees.
Here’s what’s going on. CNN is reporting that the loss of of sea grass beds in the Indian River Lagoon is one of the big factors in these manatee deaths. Where once there was 150 miles of seagrass, 60 percent of it has died. The seagrass will continue to die if sunlight is shaded out by toxic algae blooms.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, there are 7500 manatees in Florida. The fear now is how many could we lose?
Back in the 1970s, there was a near extinction of them with just a few hundred remaining.
Now to Red Tide. The Tampa Bay Times is reporting that St. Petersburg has become the center of the crises.
City crews have picked up 477 tons of dead marine life. 600 tons in total for all of Pinellas County.
No relief in sight either, according to Fish and Wildlife Commission Director Eric Sutton: “There’s no signs that necessarily it’s going to be coming to an end soon, but I’ve learned enough not to try to predict Red Tide either.”
It’s as bad as anyone can remember. Our Fox 13 reporter Kellie Cowan is out in it this morning. She says the smell of dead fish in some St. Petersburg neighborhoods is overwhelming.
Fishing captains are struggling. Their business is hurting. Even if people want to go out fishing, where can you take them?
Why it’s happening worse this year is up for debate. With that said, it’s bad. Really bad. If you have ever been near Red Tide, you know how awful it smells. It can make you sick.
I’m worried again about what we are doing to our environment. Worried about our manatees. Those gentle sea cows are starving to death.