Dead Manatee Found Near Pretty Bayou in Panama City - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Dead Manatee Found Near Pretty Bayou in Panama City

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An already endangered species is now dying in record numbers in Florida; more than 300 manatees have died this year alone, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Residents discovered a dead manatee near Pretty Bayou this weekend.

Stan Kirkland with FWC says about three manatees have died in the area this winter.

That number may sound small to some, but it's a part of a much larger statewide problem.

According to FWC, 392 manatees died in Florida in 2012. While 362 have died this year alone, as of March 15th.

Biologists blame a red tide for dozens of deaths in South Florida, but cold water may be the cause of death for the manatee in Panama City.

Kirkland says manatees typically migrate south from panhandle waters to warmer ones for the winter. If these gentle giants stay here during the winter, it's likely too cold, and they can die from cold induced stress.

Residents found the manatee, and an FWC crew from Jacksonville picked it up. Biologists will perform a necropsy to determine just exactly what killed it.

"One of the things the researches will first look at is to see if there is any outward signs that the manatee might have been hit by a boat. But, in all likelihood, it may have been cold weather," said Kirkland.

He also said as the water gets warmer, we can expect to see some manatees come up the Big Bend and into our area.

That's why it's important to watch for these creatures while on the water. He suggests wearing polarized glasses while boating, and if you know manatees are in the area, drive slow if you seem them.