CREATED Oct. 31, 2013
CAPE CORAL, Fla. - More than 750 manatees have died in Florida waters this year, a record 269 in Lee county.
Lee County Natural Resource officials say the toxic water discharges coming out of Lake Okeechobee are making manatees sick and it could get worse as they seek warmth from the cooler gulf waters this winter.
"Manatees are going to start coming up the river and the food they used to rely on, the sea grass beds, is not there this year," said Wildlife Resource Manager, Steve Boutelle.
There are clearly marked slow zones throughout Lee county waters to protect manatees but Terry from North Fort Myers says that's not enough.
"The government is definitely not doing enough to protect manatees. It's a vicious cycle that needs to stop. They need to protect the water and the ocean and the wildlife," she said.
"They are precious, precious, precious animal life that if we lose them, it's not a good sign for the earth," said Connie.
Deborah posted to Facebook, "It is a travesty that they know where it is coming from yet are not doing what it takes to fix it. They are beautiful creatures that we need to take care of."
Glenda agrees but asks, "The questions are, who will do it, who will pay for it and how will it be done, and finally who will make sure that it is done?"
The only other county that comes close to Lee county in manatee deaths is on the other side of Lake Okeechobee in Brevard county with 223 manatee deaths.