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State wildlife personnel recovered the bodies of two dead manatees in the past two days in Crystal River.

Members and volunteers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC’s) Manatee Research & Rescue team picked up the first manatee, a 9-foot adult male, on Thursday according to FWC Manatee Rescue Coordinator Andy Garrett.

Boaters first reported the injured manatee to FWC about a month ago, Garrett said, adding the marine mammal had what was later confirmed in a Friday morning necropsy to be a deep boat strike to its back.

FWC rescuers tried several times to locate the manatee in the Kings Spring area, where it took refuge until its lifeless body was found Thursday upriver in the Crystal River.

“Unfortunately, there are hundreds of manatees in the springs…and it’s really difficult to get in there and pick one animal out,” Garrett said. “It’s a frustrating situation.”

Capt. Mike Dunn, a FWC Manatee Rescue volunteer, said he brought a second dead manatee to shore on Friday that was found between Crystal River channel markers 28 and 30. Garrett said a necropsy will be performed on Monday.

These two manatee deaths increases Citrus County's mortality count to 16 for 2019, Garrett said.

To report a sick, injured, dead or tagged manatee, call FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-3922.

Be prepared to provide information on where the animal was found, if it's alive or dead, how long it's been observed for, its size, location of nearest boat ramp and a return phone number for FWC to call back.

"Also, we strongly encourage the public to call the hotline if they struck, or think they struck a manatee with their vessel," Garrett said. "As long as the vessel was obeying posted speed, there should not be a law enforcement issue."

Contact Chronicle reporter Buster Thompson at 352-564-2916 or bthompson@chronicleonline.com.

(3) comments

CitrusCo Citizen

In addition to slowing down and observing wake zones, the best things that boaters can do is (a) post a lookout on the bow for manatees in the path of the boat, (b) use a small trolling engine when cruising through waters full of manatees, (c) don't toss out the anchor but rather lower it slowly, (d) watch out when you're in reverse because the manatees can't escape your propellers as easily, and (e) don't discard fishing line and hooks, plastics, and other debris in the water were manatees could ingest them. Just do those things and it will really help to reduce the rates of manatee injuries and deaths.

DeanJ

Based on the high number of boats ignoring the idle zone speed limit in the Homosassa River West of Riverhaven Marina, we should expect numerous boat strikes of the manatees still using the spring at the wildlife park. Speed enforcement here is lacking and sorely needed.

Ssabmud

Correction, there are hundreds of humans in the springs, making it almost impossible to find a manatee. Casualties of greed.

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