ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. (AP) - A record number of manatees died in Florida in 2010, and officials blame the year's unusually cold weather on many of the deaths.
Statistics released this week from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission show that 767 manatees died last year. Of those, 279 are attributed to "cold stress."
Cold weather also contributed to the deaths of 21 of 96 newborn manatees.
State veterinarian Matrine DeWit says it's the worst year for manatees since the department began keeping records in the 1970s.
Manatees are most at risk when the waters of the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean dip below 68 degrees. If thye can't find warmer water from natural springs or power plants, they can suffer lesions and risk infections.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: http://myfwc.com/