Islands that are at risk of starvation in Florida have begun eating emergency food provided by wildlife authorities, which are trying to save the marine mammals with an experimental feeding program, officials said Friday, according to the Associated Press.
Lakes starve because water pollution has led to the death of native seagrass. A record number of manatees, more than 1,000, died in 2021, the AP reported.
Officials at a test facility at the Indian River Lagoon in central Florida have provided romaine lettuce to manatees as part of the program. They are also adding cabbage and another kind of salad to further encourage the animals to eat, according to the wiring service.
About 25 to 30 manatees were seen near the feeding site on Friday, the AP reported, while several hundred were seen in nearby areas.
Ron Mezich, head of the program’s supply department at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said the news was “significant” during a news conference, according to the AP.
“Once the animals are there, we will continue to offer food and hope they benefit from it,” he said.
The program will not currently be extended to other parts of Florida outside the Brevard County area where the test site is located, officials said.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisTrans rights under attack: Persecution should stop now Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis ends chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer Trump with the numbers: 2024 is not simple MORE (R) proposed in December to set aside $ 195 million for targeted water quality improvements and $ 35 million to improve water quality and combat harmful algal blooms in a state budget proposal for fiscal year 2022-2023.
Meanwhile, wildlife experts are also working on facilities such as Florida zoos and marine aquariums to rehabilitate manatees found alive but in distress, with 159 of the animals rescued last year, the AP noted.