Wildlife officials, FPL create temporary field response station to address manatee deaths

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Wildlife officials and Florida Power & Light Company created a temporary field response station in an effort to address the unusual manatee mortality event along Florida’s Atlantic coast.

The response station will support several unusual manatee mortality event response operations already underway in the central Indian River Lagoon, such as manatee rescues, carcass recovery, and limited field health assessments, wildlife officials said.


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said they also approved staff to conduct a short-term feeding trial, referred to by many as supplemental feeding.

READ: Brevard Zoo collecting donations to establish dedicated manatee rescue team

The goal of the feeding trial is to reduce manatee mortality and to reduce the number of animals in need of rescue, officials said.

“We understand the importance of a timely response. Our agencies and Unified Command partners carefully considered all aspects of a short-term feeding trial,” said Shannon Estenoz, assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the U.S. Department of the Interior . “It is critical we help manatees in the short term with actions that are compatible with their long-term well-being and resilience.”

READ: FWC investigating after more than 1K manatees died this year

Officials said they still anticipate relatively high mortality along Florida’s Atlantic Coast during the winter of 2021-22 due to chronic effects of starvation from the loss of seagrass associated with poor water quality within the Indian River Lagoon.

“Because this trial effort is a management action that has not been tried before, we do not know how many manatees will visit the site or how much vegetation individual manatees will consume. The goal of this action is to reduce manatee mortality. It will not eliminate it,” officials said.

READ: Wildlife officials brainstorming how to prevent record-number manatee deaths

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Katlyn Brieskorn, WFTV.com

Katlyn Brieskorn is a Digital Assignment Editor at WFTV. She joined Channel 9 in July 2019.