An urgent effort is underway to save Florida's manatees at the SeaWorld rescue rehabilitation center in Orlando.
They may look large or bloated but they're actually half their normal weight due to starvation.
Fertilizer is polluting waterways and killing off seagrass — a primary food for manatees. Additionally, unusually frigid temperatures in Florida are giving the manatees cold shock. The condition is similar to frostbite and causes parts of their tails to fall off.
Crews from SeaWorld and other rescue organizations are rushing to rehab these sick manatees. Once the animals are back at the rehab facility, a vet clinic runs many different types of lab and bloodwork to identify the illness. But these rescue facilities are strained.
More than 1,100 manatees died in 2021 — nearly surpassing both of the two previous years combined. Additionally, 97 manatees died in the first month of 2022, increasing the trajectory expected for the year.