Jan 18, 2022 - News

Manatees aren't eating their lettuce

Manatees crowd into Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River
Manatees crowd into Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River. Photo: Tamara Lush/AP

A pilot feeding program to save manatees from starvation has started, but the big lunks seem to be refusing to eat the floating lettuce so far, per the Sun-Sentinel.

What happened: Pollution from fertilizer, farms, septic tanks and Lake Okeechobee discharges has killed seagrass beds in the Indian River Lagoon, where lots of manatees winter.

What they're saying: "We have not documented animals foraging on the lettuce," Ron Mezich, imperiled species management section leader for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said in a conference call. "I will say we are not present at all locations at all times to verify that."

  • "We do come back at times, and not everything we provided is there, but we have not documented any animals [eating] it."
  • Yes, but: Wildlife officials expressed optimism that the feeding program will work as cold weather drives the marine mammals toward warmer waters, the AP reports.
  • This winter has been mild, so the animals have been more dispersed.
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