MIAMI – At least 35 manatees died from cold stress in Florida last month, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said in a report.
The endangered marine mammals died during the first 26 days of January, when temperatures across the state plunged due to cold fronts, the FWC said in its Preliminary Manatee Mortality Report for January.
The mortality rate for manatees last month was five times higher than during the same month in 2017.
Boats killed at least 10 other manatees during the month, the FWC said.
Manatees seek out warm waters during the winter and often come into contact with boats operating close to shore.
The Florida Manatee, a subspecies of the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus), can be found as far north as Georgia.
Florida manatees are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973, which make it illegal to harass, hunt, capture or kill any marine mammal.