Manatee deaths up slightly from 2007

Published: Monday, January 5, 2009 at 2:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 5, 2009 at 2:22 p.m.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. State wildlife officials say 337 manatees died in Florida last year, a slight rise from 2007 but still below the five-year average.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says watercraft strikes accounted for 90 deaths. A record high of 101 newborn deaths also was reported. Biologists say that could mean more manatees were born this year or that scientists simply found more carcasses than in the past.

In 2007, 317 manatees died in Florida. The five-year average is 357. Loss of habitat and boat strikes account for the biggest threats to the species. Manatees remain protected under both state and federal endangered species laws.

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