Manatee Deaths

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Scientists say red tide may have killed 60 manatees along Florida's southwest coast in less than two months.

Sixteen dead manatees are confirmed victims of red tide since Feb. 27.

Marine scientist Tom Pitchford says another 44 deaths were probably caused by ride tide.

The largest number of manatee deaths caused by red tide was in 1996, when 149 died between March 5 and April 27 in southwest Florida. At last count, there were about 3,000 manatees left in Florida waters.

Red tide is named for a bloom of foul-smelling, microscopic algae that emits a toxin that interferes with breathing in mammals and fish. The toxin also prevents manatees from swimming to the surface, causing them to drown.

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