Update on March 28, 2013
Two dead manatees in Indian
River Lagoon, Photo by Elliott Jones for TC Palm News
The death of manatees
has increased to 80, as of March 21.
Two hundred and sixty pelicans have died in Indian River Lagoon. Manatees
are dying where there was a loss of 30,000 acres of sea grass, about 80% of the
grasses in the northern end of the Lagoon. Sea grass beds are forage for the manatees and act as a nursery
Necropsies of manatees have found stomachs filled with the
red-colored algae known as gracilaria.
Manatees have been forced by the loss of sea grasses to feed on algae. There is a deadly causal effect of
nitrogen runoff. Nitrogen from the
land feeds the algae. Algae blooms
kill sea grass by blocking light and by growths on the blades of grass. Loss of grass deprives manatees and
other wildlife of food. Clearly,
algae is not an appropriate diet for manatees. The nitrogen used to fertilize lawns is indirectly killing
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