Sarasota Police Department
Authorities in Sarasota, Florida, want people to stop touching manatees while they're mating.
In a tweet shared recently, the Sarasota Police Department told the public that manatees were seen mating at South Lido Beach.
Adding a note from Mote Marine Lab, the SPD wrote, "If you see a manatee mating herd, observe respectfully from a distance. Do NOT touch."
Those who see a "distressed" or "deceased" manatee are urged to call the lab's hotline at 888-345-2335.
We spotted manatees mating near South Lido Beach Sunday. Folks were trying to touch them. Please don’t. @MoteMarineLab: If you see a manatee mating herd, observe respectfully from a distance. Do NOT touch. If you see a distressed/deceased manatee, call Mote’s hotline 888-345-2335 pic.twitter.com/UI5jMcNzrY
— Sarasota Police Department (@SarasotaPD) August 7, 2022
According to the FWC, between January 1 and July 2 of 2021, 841 manatees died.
The losses came amid a famine caused by the loss of the marine mammal's seagrass habitat.
"Unprecedented manatee mortality due to starvation was documented on the Atlantic coast this past winter and spring," Florida's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute said in a statement at the time obtained by NPR. "Most deaths occurred during the colder months when manatees migrated to and through the Indian River Lagoon, where the majority of seagrass has died off."
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Earlier this year, it was reported that 1, 101 manatees died in Florida in 2021, according to CBS News. A majority of them starved to death.
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Manatees have been a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act since 2017, the FWC said on its website. Before that, they were considered endangered.