Manatees killed by red tide algae bloom inside the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Marine Mammal Pathobiology Laboratory.
Tampa, Florida -- Manatees are gentle, cute and fun to look at. However there's nothing fun about a recent statistic about manatee deaths in Florida.
According to conservation group, Save the Manatees, there's a record high of manatee deaths for 2013 and there's still two months to go.
It's opening day at the manatee viewing center in Apollo Beach and Lesley Henderson can't wait to see her favorite mammal. However, as she watches them swim she admits that she usually sees more.
"It's early. The water is still warm."
But according to volunteer Anthony Gerbino, even when the weather cools there still may not be that many manatees in the water.
"Many died because of red tide," says Gerbino.
In 2010 there were 766 reported manatee deaths, the highest number on record. But so far this year the numbers are already up to 769.
"Red tide has a toxin and it was in are sea grass where many manatees eat," says Kevin Baxter, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife commission.
Baxter says red tide played a big role in the death toll but so did the public.
"Water craft is still an issue as well. We encourage people who are out on the water to be watching out for them."
See also: Boaters cautioned to watch for migrating manatees
Because many people at the viewing center like Henderson want to make sure there is something to view the next time she comes back.
"I want to bring my grandchildren here. It's a wonderful place."
The viewing center will be open until April 15th.