Mom and baby West Indian manatees in Three Sisters Springs, Florida. James R.D. Scott / Getty Images
2018 has not been a good year for Florida's iconic
manatees. A total of 540 sea cows have died in the last eight months, surpassing last year's total of 538 deaths, according to figures posted Monday by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
The figure will likely climb higher before the year's end amid the state's ongoing
toxic algae crisis. The red tide in the state's southwest is the known or suspected cause of death for 97 manatees as of Aug. 12, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission recently reported.