From Amy Bennett Williams of Fort Myers News-Press, 09/23/2018:
The state now in the midst of the second-worst manatee die-off ever recorded, a “mortality event” in scientist-speak. … During the worst-ever such event in 2013, more than 800 [manatee] died. Since the region’s current red tide began nearly a year ago, that number is 731 and rising weekly.
… But when carcasses are too decomposed to be hauled in for examination and eventual rendering, they usually stay where they are, returning to the ecosystem. Natural as that might seem, if the average manatee weighs upward of 1,000 pounds, that translates into some 10 tons of fertilizer released along Lee County’s already nutrient-polluted shorelines since August, from the 19 dead manatees left in place.
“As far as being good for the ecosystem,” said Rick Bartleson, research scientist with the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation marine lab. “(manatees’) decomposition is a big nutrient source for more algae blooms (and) we don’t need extra nutrients out there right now,” he said. “It’s a feedback loop for the algae … they can use the nutrients to grow more, and it’s a positive feedback loop that we don’t need. We would like to remove that part” — the dead manatee part.