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Episode 1404: Saving Florida's Starving Manatees

Florida’s manatees are a big tourist draw in the Sunshine State, with their ability to delight both locals and visitors. Yet the iconic marine mammals began dying in record numbers in 2021, following the loss of their main food source in the Indian River Lagoon: seagrass.

The situation has been brewing for years, with pollutants and nutrients entering the waterways that lead to massive algal blooms. The blooms block sunlight and prevent seagrass from growing.

State and federal wildlife officials began a first-ever experimental feeding program during the winter of 2021-2022, to save more manatees from starving. Meanwhile, scientists are working to restore seagrass, but it is a process they say could take decades.


Meet the experts featured in this episode.

Image Credits

Changing Seas would like to thank the following individuals and institutions who kindly allowed their footage, images and other media to be used in this production:

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission


Geoffrey Smith Byron


Julia Sansevere 


Manatees at DeSoto Park:
US Fish and Wildlife Permit #MA66527C
Teresa Jablonski and Wendy Noke
Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute


Manatee Lagoon


Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium


Phil Stasik


Save the Manatee Club 


Silent Sirens: Manatees in Peril. 1980.

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory




U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service


ZooTampa at Lowry Park 

Special Thanks:


Angela Ledford

Web Extras

Blue Spring - Manatee Sanctuary

Funding for this episode of Changing Seas was provided by:

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