Mysterious Deaths in Indian River Lagoon

Toxic seaweed may be the cause of the deaths of 112 manatees in the Indian River Lagoon, according to the National Ocean Service.

The Indian River Lagoon is known to be one of the most diverse ecosystems in North America. However, the lagoon may be in danger after scientists discovered that more than 47,000 acres of its sea grass bed, the manatee’s main diet, have died off.

Because the sea grass has been wiped out, manatees are forced to eat the seaweed in the lagoon that, scientists now know, is plagued with sewage-fueled algae blooms.

The cause of the bloom is not yet known. One idea is that there is a leak in one of the 300,000 septic tanks around the lagoon, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Basically, the lagoon is now an active sewer.

Manatees aren’t the only casualties. Since last summer, 52 dolphins and 300 pelicans have also been found dead. These casualties may or may not be related to the deaths of the manatees because they all eat different types of food. Also, manatees have been found completely full of seaweed while dolphins and pelicans were found starving.

How’s Florida reacting to the news of the deaths of their marine life?

The Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University had $2 million in  state funds coming their way to study the bodies popping up in the lagoon. Good ol’ Gov. Rick Scott vetoed the project.


Photo Credit: Flickr/Steve Duane

Help save the manatees by donating to the Save the Manatees Club at They even give you the option of adopting a manatee for yourself!

Want to read up on the Indian River Lagoon crisis? Wired has a great article at


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