Manatee Deaths

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Twenty-seven manatees have been found dead on southwest Florida's coasts over the past month, and biologists believe they were victims of a red tide algae bloom.

Two more dead manatees were recovered Thursday in Lee County. Scientists at the Florida Marine Research Institute believe red tide killed 27 manatees in four southwest Florida counties during almost the same period last year.

Officials think the latest deaths are the result of a bloom that started in late February off southwest Florida's Gulf Coast. The dead manatees are being brought for red-tide testing to a marine mammal laboratory in St. Petersburg.

Manatees are considered endangered by both the state and federal governments. Researchers counted about 3,000 in Florida during a January survey.