Experts fight to save manatees from red tide bloom

9:39 AM, Mar 11, 2013   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +

Video: Experts fight to save manatees from red tide bloom

Manatees killed by red tide algae bloom inside the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Marine Mammal Pathobiology Laboratory.
Ashley Porter Video Stories
More Ashley Porter Stories

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- You'll find two of the newest victims of a problem experts call "catastrophic" inside the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Marine Mammal Pathobiology Laboratory.

"These manatees die quickly," says FWC Veterinarian Martine DeWit. "It goes really quickly, so they basically die from shock."

PHOTOS: Experts fight to save manatees from red tide bloom

DeWit has made manatees her mission. She could tell you pretty much anything about them. She can also tell you there's never been a red tide bloom this deadly.

Last Monday alone, FWC found 16 manatees dead from the red tide bloom throughout Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, and Collier counties. Eleven more were discovered on Tuesday, five on Wednesday, and seven on Thursday. That total of 39 manatees found dead in just four days is more than the total red tide-related deaths in 2012 combined.

"We think that this week we surpassed the yearly record, which was set in 1996," DeWit says.

That record was 151 in one year. As of Thursday, the count was at 149, with reports still coming in.

Red tide first showed up late last fall. It's a harmful algal bloom, producing toxins that can cover seagrass and kill manatees when they eat it. The lab can determine whether a manatee died from red tide consumption by measuring the toxin that's seeped into a manatee's tissue.

"It's a very large bloom that persisted through the winter and there are lots of manatees in the same area," DeWit says. "They all aggregated to the warm-water side, and that put them in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Twelve of the manatees were rescued just in time. The Lowry Park Zoo is now caring for them. That's what inspires DeWit, despite the grim images, to fight on.

"We want to preserve manatees for the future of Florida, for future generations to enjoy manatees the way we are enjoying them right now," she says.

Signs that a manatee has been poisoned include erratic swimming and floating upside down. Many times, the key to them being saved is a phone call. If you see a manatee in distress, call 1-888-404-3922. FWC biologists monitor the hotline 24/7.

You may also like...

Sinkhole Tragedy: Man sleeping in bed swallowed by sinkhole

That's NUTS! Squirrel causes massive outage at Tampa water plant

Faces of Meth: Before and After pictures

Mommy no-no: Mom arrested for going to school assembly - TOPLESS!

Sex tape scandal: Miss Delaware Teen USA resigns

Prostitute Roundup: 78 arrested in online sex sting

Upload error: Lawmakers consider restrictions on posting naked pics online

Neigh! Video shows man brutalizing, having sex with horse

Shake it: Harlem shake - 10 News style...

Sex blog: Tampa area school CFO busted over her dirty sex porn blog *warning, GRAPHIC*

Spring Breakers: Movie shows seedier side of Tampa Bay

BUSTED: Woman apologizes for flipping off judge *warning, GRAPHIC*

Nasty Nasty Dining: 10 of the nastiest restaurants in Tampa Bay in 2012

Cover Girl: Kate Upton back on the cover of Sports Illustrated

APP-tastic: Download the 10 News app for your iPad

Yowtch! Teen accidentally shoots off his penis, testicle

Bikini Photos: 2012 Hooters International Swimsuit Pageant

Money Mondays: How you can search for unclaimed cash

Sex Offender Mugshots: Look up Florida Sex Offenders here

Bikinis, mud, trucks: The Redneck Yacht Club

Photos: Ex-Charlie Sheen Goddess Bree Olson

Naughty Schoolgirls: Naughty schoolgirl night at Tampa club pictures

Outrageous mug shot galleries...

Strange: Some of the most unusual mug shots we've seen

Notorious Women: Bad girls behind bars

Teachers: Teacher arrest mugshots

Celebrities: The rich and famous have their own booking photos

Jaw droppers: Open mouth mug shots

Laughers: What's so funny mug shots

Prostitutes: Prostitute mug shots

Athletes: Professional athlete mug shots

Porn arrests: Child porn arrest mug shots

Local Mugs: Hillsborough County Mug shots

More unusual mug shots and galleries: 10 News slideshows and galleries

Most Watched Videos