ORLANDO, Fla. — The manatee was too weak to swim.

She lay still in a medical pool at a SeaWorld rehabilitation center, only lifting her whiskered snout every so often to breathe. Her snout rested upon a pipe to make the effort easier. Her body was slender, hardly that of the chunky manatee—a relative of elephants—that she should have been. Her underbelly was concave. The manatee was near death from starvation.

Groups Set Stage For Lawsuit Over Manatee Protections

Aug 16, 2021

With more than 900 manatee deaths this year in Florida, conservation groups signaled Monday that they plan to file a lawsuit against the federal government over “critical habitat” areas for the sea cows.

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is launching a manatee rehabilitation facility to help address the increasing number of sick and dying manatees.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens released a male manatee Wednesday in St. Augustine.

Florida Congressman Urges 'Endangered' Status For Manatees

Jun 15, 2021
A group of manatees is pictured in a canal where discharge from a nearby Florida Power & Light plant warms the water in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Lynne Sladky / Associated Press 2018 file photo

Four years after federal wildlife officials reclassified manatees from endangered to threatened, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., called Monday for a reversal of the decision.

Federal officials have declared an unusual mortality event for the state's manatees. An investigation is underway as to why they're dying off so quickly. More than 700 manatees have died in Florida so far this year. That's more than double the average.

"The manatees that they are seeing on the east coast are all coming in with the same situation. Extremely underweight, extremely thin, some to the point that it can't be reversed," Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute's Jenn Galbraith says.

Florida Manatees Face A New Threat: Weed Killer

Mar 31, 2021

A group of Florida scientists published a study that shows the state's manatees are chronically exposed to a chemical in herbicides, like Roundup. The research concluded that the constant contact could affect the immune and urinary systems of manatees.

Click here to view the study

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 539 Manatees have washed up dead since January 1 of this year. It's a pace that could set a grim record, according to experts. In all of last year, 637 manatees died. At Manatee Park in Fort Myers, six have had to be rescued, which, according to Lindsay Bell at the gift shop, is not normal.

After an uptick in manatee deaths last year, wildlife activists are pushing for a change in Florida's boating safety rules. Sarah Gledhill works for the Center for Biological Diversity. She says the center wants all boaters to take a safety course that she says will inherently help manatees.

"Boater operators will be more aware of their surroundings not only from that public safety standpoint but from the standpoint of wildlife at the same time," Gledhill says.

Lusia the manatee is prepared for her Daytona Beach release.
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is celebrating its third manatee release this year from its Manatee Critical Care Center.

This female juvenile manatee was rescued in Daytona Beach and is recovering at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.
Bill Greer / Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The Marine Mammal Response Team at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is working to nurse a manatee back to health that was rescued in Daytona Beach after likely being hit by a boat.

The rate of manatee deaths is above average in Florida so far this year, although there is a gap in state data between April and May due to coronavirus restrictions.

Crevasse the manatee was released Wednesday after being nursed back to health at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens' Manatee Critical Care Center.
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Crevasse the manatee has been successfully been released back into the wild after being rescued in November and cared for at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens' Manatee Critical Care Center.

Image of manatees swimming

Manatee-lovers can now watch the Florida marine mammals at any time thanks to two new webcams.

Florida Sees Near Record Number Of Manatee Deaths In 2018

Jan 7, 2019
Keith Ramos/USFWS / Via Wikimedia Commons

Manatee deaths went up in 2018, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Wikimedia Commons

Northeast Florida’s manatee population is rebounding, according to new research Jacksonville University.

This week scientists counted the most manatees ever spotted during a single count.


The Jacksonville City Council will vote Tuesday whether the city should oversee Northeast Florida’s first manatee critical care center, slated to open this year.

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens will house the center for rehabilitating and releasing sick or injured manatees back into their habitat.

Jessica Palombo / WJCT News

Law enforcement and wildlife officials are reminding boaters to watch out for manatees. A run-in with one of the endangered animals could result in a $25,000 fine.

As the temperature rises in Northeast Florida, so does the level of danger for slow-moving manatees who live in rivers. Sergeant Patricia Grant from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office Marine Unit says boaters have been doing a good job recently of observing speed limits.

Keith Ramos / Flickr

Florida Fish And Wildlife Conservation Commission officials are encouraging people to be especially mindful of manatees this month.

Manatees Might Lose Endangered Status

Jul 3, 2014

Manatees have been an endangered species since 1967. But on Tuesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made an announcement that this classification may soon be lowered to "threatened."

But some environmentalists and government officials are opposed to this change. They say changing the label might result in more lenient rules about boat speed zones and dock-building limits. 

Volusia County Sheriff's Office

A truly big drug bust and some truly stupid vacationers are among the stories in this week's ONLY IN FLORIDA.

Mote Marine Laboratory

Forget the Vegas line, we've got the real inside, or rather, underwater track on who will win the Super Bowl in this week's ONLY IN FLORIDA.

Duval County Public Schools, Michael Dunn, and Rep. Trey Radel are in the headlines today.

Kevin Meerschaert

With Memorial Day weekend upon us more people will be hitting the waters of Jacksonville Duval County in their boats.

There are 30,000 registered boaters in Duval County. The Jacksonville Sheriff's office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and other law enforcement agencies held a press conference on Friday to remind boaters about the manatee protection zones and to boat safely.