Florida wildlife officials approve protections for endangered manatees
They include feeding lettuce for the second straight year, as poor water quality and algae blooms have depleted seagrass beds that provide a key food source for manatees in the Indian River Lagoon.
State wildlife officials Wednesday approved a seasonal no-entry zone in an area of Brevard County waters where manatees gather, while preparing for a second winter of feeding the sea cows to try to prevent deaths.
The approval came after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission confirmed this month that it will again work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to feed lettuce to manatees. The agencies also took the unusual step last winter, as manatees starved because of a lack of seagrass, a key food source.
“We are poised and ready to manage our manatee situation in the Indian River Lagoon, much as we have, but with improvements based on what we have learned,” Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Executive Director Eric Sutton said Wednesday during a meeting at the Bluegreen’s Bayside Resort and Spa in Panama City Beach.
Poor water quality and algae blooms have depleted seagrass beds that provide a key food source for manatees in the Indian River Lagoon.
“Water quality improvements and habitat restorations are ongoing,” Sutton said. “So, we are hoping that this will be a bridge to help us.”