The unprecedented rate at which Florida's manatees are dying has prompted lawmakers to direct $8 million from the state's budget towards aiding the native sea cows.
The funding would go towards habitat restoration and restoring manatees' access to springs.
Florida manatees have been dying at record numbers early in 2021. Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has reported nearly 700 manatee deaths this year. That is almost three times the five-year average.
FWC has said a majority of the deaths have been attributed to a "reduction in food availability," meaning a loss of seagrass.
The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported that since 2009, 58 percent of the seagrass in the lagoon system has disappeared, choked off from sunlight as a result of an over-saturation of nutrients in the water.
Seagrass is food for hundreds of thousands of animals and home to even more. The loss of seagrass has been especially hard on the manatees that graze on it.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently investigating the recent spike in deaths after declaring the increase an Unusual Mortality Event (UME).
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