Since January, 435 manatees have been found dead in the Indian River Lagoon in large part because toxic discharges and harmful algal blooms have destroyed more than half of the seagrass that they rely on for food.
In many ways, manatees are the canary in the coal mine. When toxic discharges are sent into our communities, our manatees, our dolphins, and eventually, our children, pay the price. That’s why we need to address the underlying causes of manatee deaths: the destruction of our waterways.
Three years ago, I passed a law called the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act of 2018. This bipartisan legislation allows the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to designate situations like the one in the Indian River Lagoon as “Harmful Algal Blooms of National Significance” and access additional federal funds to address the problem.
The bottom line is that if the federal government is a major contributor to the problem, they should help fund the solution.
That’s why, this week, I joined a bipartisan group of Florida legislators calling on NOAA Administrator Richard Spinrad to use the authority given to him by my law to take action to save the manatees.
Manatees are the victims of decades of mismanagement of Florida’s waterways, and we should use every tool at our disposal to protect them.
You can read our letter to NOAA here: