gray and white sea creature

Two news stories came across my phone within hours of each other. Both of them disturbing and very sad.

I will take them in the order they came through. Manatee deaths and human overdoses.

Manatees. For the first time, Florida lost over a thousand manatees in a year. Here’s what’s so sad about this story. The manatees are starving to death.

Brevard County is seeing the highest number of manatee deaths. It’s happening in the Indian River Lagoon. Wastewater and fertilizer runoff create algae blooms. Those blooms keep the sun from reaching the seagrasses. That’s the manatees chief source of food.

We are destroying the manatees’ ecosystem. Zoo Tampa believes the manatees should be moved from threatened to endangered. I have to agree.

As for overdoses, ABC News reports more than 100 thousand people died from them during the first year of the pandemic.

The pandemic itself is partly to blame. My good friend Clara Reynolds from the Crises Center of Tampa Bay has a unique perspective. The pandemic required more people to need mental health counseling. That said, the pandemic kept them from having access to it. Consequently, they resorted to other things, like drugs, to get through.

Synthetic opioids are another reason. Drugs like fentanyl are so powerful, just a tiny amount can take a life. What’s so sad here is that many of those taking it don’t know it. It’s mixed in with illegal street drugs and the buyers have no idea what they are getting.

My heart aches for our manatees. How can you not love those sweet, innocent creatures? How can you not ache for these families that have lost loved ones to drugs?

Not great thoughts to start the weekend, but important numbers to get out there.

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