Florida’s manatee population saw its highest death toll in at least a dozen years in 2021, the state announced.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is reporting a total of 1,101 of the mammals died last year.
That figure is almost double the state’s five-year average of 625 deaths.
Last week, a new emergency rule went into effect providing more protection for manatees. It established a temporary no-entry zone, which is supervised by law enforcement and the commission’s biologists.
Manatees are a protected species in Florida, which recorded 637 of the animals’ deaths in 2020.
The second-highest death toll since 2010 occurred in 2013 when 830 animals died.
A majority of the deaths occurred on the state’s east coast, in what the commission calls a manatee mortality event.
Watercraft were listed as the animals’ cause of death in 103 cases, which was the second-lowest number for that cause in the last five years.