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Red Tide: Dangerous Florida Red Tide turning Manatees 'Pretty Much Comatose - by Daniel Moritz-Rabson '

A toxic algae bloom sweeping across Florida has landed nearly comatose manatees in rehabilitation.

Thousands of dead turtle, fish and eel have washed onto the state’s scenic beaches from toxic red tide algae bloom consuming the southwestern Florida coast.

Rescuers have rushed to save marine life from blooms of the Karenia brevis algae, which produces brevetoxins and causes neurological issues when consumed. The threatened Florida manatee, which has a population of 6,131, is among the species imperlied by the naturally occurring algae, and rescuers are rushing to protect the mammals.

Five hundred forty manatees have already died this year, more than the 538 deaths recorded in 2017. Since the start of 2018, 80 manatee carcasses have been found on Florida beaches. Scientists finger brevetoxins as the likely killer.

“Manatees swim in it, they breathe it, and they eat it,” manager of rescue operations at SeaWorld Orlando Jon Peterson told Newsweek, speaking of K. brevis. When rescuers find the manatees, “they’re going to be pretty much comatose. They aren’t going to swimming or moving. They might be in full seizures.”

Read more: Florida Red Tide Update: Manatees 'Pretty Much Comatose'

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