Starving Manatees May Help Predict Changes in Global Ecosystems

Medscape Staff

March 28, 2022

The changes in the Florida ecosystem that are causing manatees to starve to death are being watched closely across the globe where there are fears that similar changes could affect other systems, according to a large cross-section of marine scientists.

What to know:

  • In the first 3 months of 2022, at least 350 manatees on Florida's east coast have already died compared with 1101 manatee deaths last year in all of Florida.

  • The number of manatee deaths in the last 15 months is the equivalent of more than 10% of the estimated world manatee population.

  • Manatees have begun eating algae because the seagrasses that they normally feed on are in a global decline due to problems created by human influence with wastewater, runoff, and development, exacerbated by climate change.

  • In the last 20 years, the decline of the world's seagrasses has accelerated following a loss of up to 30% of the world's seagrass in the 20th century.

  • More cascading ecosystem collapses are expected along the world's coasts unless urgent actions are taken to clean up waterways and combat global warming.

This is a summary of the article "Florida's starving manatees reflect troubles in coastal ecosystems around the globe" published by Science X on March 17. The full article can be found on

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