An emaciated manatee in Florida appears to search desperately for food

·2 min read

TITUSVILLE, Fla. — Ribs jutting out from its side, a manatee appears to be starving in a video shot by Dana Pinnick at Manatee Hammock Campground.

About a minute into the video, the thin sea cow looked to be searching the rocks for algae or any plant life, next to a sandy bottom barren of seagrass — a manatee's typical diet.

But up to 90% of the seagrass coverage died off here in some spots of the Indian River Lagoon more than a decade ago, and very little has grown back since. Severe algae blooms choked out the bottom grass, prime habitat for manatees, fish and other marine life.

The manatee's status was unclear early Friday but crews from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and/or SeaWorld typically assess such animals and evaluate them for potential rescue and rehabilitation at SeaWorld's Orlando facility. The video shows a couple other thin-looking manatees nearby.

'Swallowed by the whale': Lobster diver caught by humpback whale off Massachusetts beach

Viral video: Hammerhead sharks circle Florida beachgoers

An emaciated manatee was sighted off the pier at the Manatee Hammock Campground in Titusville eating algae off the rocks on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. State wildlife crews are working on finding the animal again and assessing it for a potential rescue, according to Save the Manatee Club.
An emaciated manatee was sighted off the pier at the Manatee Hammock Campground in Titusville eating algae off the rocks on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. State wildlife crews are working on finding the animal again and assessing it for a potential rescue, according to Save the Manatee Club.

Pinnick, who's camping at Manatee Hammock, said she shot the video on June 21, then saw the same manatee again on Wednesday. FWC came out to the campground on Thursday, she said, but the manatee already was gone. "It was definitely the same one," Pinnick said Friday.

"They came out and did look for it, but it had already swam off," Pinnick said. "They come up right there and they will eat the algae on the rocks right there. That was the very first time I've personally ever seen one that isn't healthy."

Manatees are dying at a record pace this year, with some 40% of them thought to have starved. Through June 25, at least 819 manatees had died in Florida in 2021. A record 830 manatees died in 2013, according to FWC statistics.

Contributing: Max Chesnes, of TCPalm

This article originally appeared on Florida Today: VIDEO: A starving manatee in Florida struggles to find food

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting