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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ways to help manatees survive a unusually harsh Florida winter

Published 2/28/2010
Through Feb. 12, there have been more than 300 deaths from all causes. Of these, 167 have been attributed to cold stress. Another 116 deaths have been labeled as undetermined or not recovered, many of which were also likely caused by cold stress because of their location and timing.

Florida's springs provide natural winter habitats for Florida's manatees. Reduced spring flows caused by increased human demand for water have decreased these available habitats, while access to others has been reduced or eliminated by weirs or dams. One such area is Silver Springs in Marion County, the largest of Florida's springs. Manatees have lost access to this spring due to the Kirkpatrick dam. Restoration of the Ocklawaha River and removal of the dam would restore access to the spring. Unfortunately, this restoration would be delayed at least another 50 years if the Jim King State Reserve bill passes. Ask your legislators to support the Florida Springs Protection Act this session (SB568) and vote against the Jim King State Reserve bill (SB466/HB695).

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