Manatees latest casualty of cold snap – about dozen dead in area waters

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Manatees are the latest casualty of the recent cold snap with perhaps dozens killed off statewide in the past few weeks.

Although the state’s numbers are about a week behind, as of Jan. 15, some 22 manatees have died of cold stress, said Carli Segelson, a researcher with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Friday afternoon there were reports of a rescue effort of as many as 15 manatees grouped together in a canal near the Vero Beach Country Club. A mother and her calf were successfully captured and taken to Sea World in Orlando for observation.

In Indian River, a newborn calf died in the Indian River Lagoon in Sebastian, while in Brevard, seven have died from cold stress from Merritt Island to Palm Bay.

Those numbers do not yet reflect the animals picked up this week by local Fish and Wildlife officers.

At least 11 have been found in the waters of Indian River and Brevard counties, said Lenny Salberg, a spokesman for Fish and Wildlife.

“The number of manatees coming up dead is just unbelievable,” said Salberg.

In 2009, Florida hit a record with 56 manatee deaths due to cold stress, said Segelson. This year, it’s hard to tell, but with the extended cold snap, she said it would be expected to have large numbers die.

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