Manatees have been dying at a record pace in Florida this year, threatening their overall population.
in just the first three months of 2013 alone, the number of sea cow deaths have already surpassed all of 2012.
According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report released on Thursday, 409 manatees have died in Florida waters so far in 2013. The total number of deaths in 2012: 392.
Manatees are falling prey mainly mainly to a mixture of dumb humans being dumb, the rising red tide on the west coast of the state, and the cold weather,
Red tide -- which is basically blooms of poisonous algae called Karenia brevis that is deadly to fish and other sea life -- has killed off a good chunk of manatees this year.
Meanwhile, something scientists call brown bloom has taken out 31,000 acres of sea grass in the 156-mile-long lagoon the past two years and seem to be the cause of death of many manatees in the east coast.
"I don't know that we've ever reached such a high number of manatee deaths this early in the year," said Jaclyn Lopez, staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental non-profit organization based in St. Petersburg. "The overall message is that we need to be doing more to protect or our Florida manatee populations."
Then there's humans with boats and fishing nets offing sea cows, although the number of human-related manatee deaths have dipped considerably.
Still, humans and their boats aren't helping the endangered animals.
People have killed more than 90 manatees per year in the past five years, which is more than six times the number to keep the overall population where it needs to be.
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