Hundreds of Florida’s iconic manatees are starving to death and threatened with extinction.
Decades of pollution and toxic discharges from Lake Okeechobee have turned the manatees’ home, the 165-mile Indian River Lagoon, into an algae-infested cesspool. Runoff from fertilizers, sewage, and septic leaks has destroyed 47,000 miles of sea grass, the manatees’ vital food source.
In the first five months of this year, 761 manatees have died compared with 637 for all of last year, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. At this rate, by year’s end, the manatees’ death toll will be the highest in the last five years.
Florida Governor DeSantis refuses to act for the manatees
Despite these dire findings and witnessing the pollution first hand, Governor DeSantis has done nothing. DeSantis likes to be billed pro-environment, but during a May 12 press conference when asked if he’d declare a state of emergency regarding the plight of manatees he simply replied, “There is no need to do that. I think it would spook a lot of people. It would harm a lot of the folks in our community to do that.”
These are not the words from someone who cares about either the environment or the community who live near these polluted estuaries.
We must act now!
Strong swift action is needed both to save the manatee population and keep people safe from the harmful effects of pollution.
The Pegasus Foundation is calling upon Governor DeSantis to declare a state of emergency. This would empower the Department of Environmental Protection to enact emergency regulations to stop polluters, levy penalties, and remove nutrient pollution from runoff.