Manatee Monday – CAPT Kristie has guests out oin a tour yesterday and noticed a manatee motionless on the surface. She approached gently to see how it reacted. It appeared to try and submerge but could not and remained floating and fairly still. She moved the boat away, so as not to disturb it and decided to call US Fish and Wildlife. A Ranger was on-site within 5 minutes. He borrowed a store camera and approached it in his boat and took a few pictures.
He was going to monitor its behavior to determine if it was just floating or if there was a health issue that warranted more hands-on action. While we do not know if this manatee has an illness causing some trapped gas and disabling its ability to submerge, there has been a large Red Tide several miles off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico. From Wikipedia.com: Another cause of manatee deaths is the red tide, a term used for the proliferation, or "blooms", of the microscopic marine algae of the species Karenia brevis, a member of the dinoflagellates that produces brevetoxins that can have toxic effects on the central nervous systems of creatures in the area of the algae bloom. In 1996, a red tide was responsible for 151 manatee deaths. The epidemic began on March 5 and continued through April 28, wiping out approximately 15% of the known population of manatees along South Florida's western coast. In 1982, another outbreak resulted in 37 deaths, and in 2005, 44 more deaths were attributed to the blooms. We hope this is not the case as many manatees would be endangered if the tide comes close to the shore. Lastly, while it may not have been the encounter that the guests anticipated, they did learn about manatees and Capt. Kristie demonstrated how to not interfere directly and to contact FWS if there are any suspected injuries or illnesses.