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Conservation groups to sue EPA in case of manatee deaths

Conservation groups to sue EPA in case of manatee deaths

Three conservation groups filed a notice Monday notifying the Environmental Protection Agency of their intention to sue if it does not take steps to protect them. Manatees from water pollution in Florida.


What You Need to Know

  • Three conservation groups filed a notice Monday notifying the Environmental Protection Agency of their intention to sue if it does not take steps to protect them. Manatees from water pollution in Florida
  • According to the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and Save the Manatee Club, polluting algae blooms are responsible for more than half of the manatee deaths in Florida this past year.
  • Officials said that Florida’s manatee deaths this year exceed the five-year average.
  • The groups are sking the EPA to reinitiate consultation with Fish and Wildlife Service to reassess the standards in the Indian River Lagoon

According to a news release issued by the Center for Biological Diversity Defenders of Wildlife and Save the Manatee Club, pollution-fueled algal blooms are cited for over half of the more then 1,000 manatee deaths this year in Florida.

The Indian River Lagoon’s algal blooms caused the death of thousands of acres worth of seagrass, which highlighted the inadequacy Florida’s federally approved water quality standards.

They have asked the EPA to reopen consultation with Fish and Wildlife Service in order to reassess standards. Monday’s notice gives agencies 60-days to correct the violations alleged by the letter before the groups file suit.

It is shameful that hundreds have died from the failure of regulators to protect our water quality, Jaclyn López, Florida director of Center for Biologial Diversity stated in a news release.

Lopez pointed out that the Indian River Lagoon, which is an ecological wonder, supports not only manatees but also green sea turtles, tarpon, and a remarkable diversity marine life.

Lopez stated that the manatees’ mass deaths, which were completely preventable, show how crucial it is for the EPA and other agencies to act quickly to protect the vibrant ecosystem they share.

According to the news release, the Indian River Lagoon provides warm water habitat for slow-moving mammals. It also supports more species than any other estuary in North America.

They claim that despite substantial evidence of this harmful pollution and Florida’s failure to address it the EPA approved Florida’s water-quality criteria for nitrogen and phosphorous.

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Kim Valentine, a retired teacher and instructor at Auburn-Washburn USD 437's Outdoor Environmental Education Lab, leads a group of Pauline Elementary School first-graders to the Frog Pond at the outdoor space. The site houses two buildings with classrooms, two ponds, a nature trail and pavilions to teach youths about the environment.

Lindsay Dubin (staff attorney at Defenders) of Wildlife stated that manatees in Florida will continue to starve until the state reduces its pollution. To ensure the future of this iconic species, the EPA must immediately improve water quality standards.

Last week Officials from wildlife announced a pilot feeding program that could save many manatees from starvation. Officials warn that manatees are still at risk from long-term man-made water pollution that will reduce their food supply.

Florida Power & Light, the largest electric utility in the state, has raised $700,000 to provide a temporary response station for manatees. It is located at Cape Canaveral on Florida’s East Coast. In a press release, the company stated that the money would also be used to rescue and rehab distressed manatees.

This program has never before been tried.

Officials said that the manatee deaths this year in Florida are more than twice the annual average death rate over five years. These deaths account for 19% of Florida’s Atlantic manatee population and 12% of all Florida manatees.

Manatees were reclassified from endangered to threatened in 2017 but have been suffering significant setbacks from habitat destruction, red tide, unusually low winters, and possible starvation as a result of the seagrass death.

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