Florida manatees struggle to survive in Indian River Lagoon

The Indian River Lagoon was once a vibrant and healthy waterway, but some say it is now turned into a wasteland. 

"Back in the 1960s and 70s when I was a kid I would look over the edge of the boat and there would be a carpet of seagrass. Every once in a while, there would be a sandy spot," said Laurilee Thompson. 

Thompson has lived off the Indian River Lagoon since she was a kid. She has seen how the quality of the water has declined. 

"Who wants to live next to a toilet. A stinking body of water when you have dead manatees washing up in your yard," Thompson said. Last year set a record in deaths for manatees. 

Thompson says with the pollution and runoff from fertilizers, the lagoon will continue to be a graveyard. Couple that with starvation, boat strikes, a cold winter, and toxic algae bloom. Thompson calls it a vicious cycle for Florida's manatees, struggling to find relief.

Environmentalists back the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s manatee feeding program, and are asking the public to do their part: reduce fertilizers and chemicals if they live next to the lagoon, and change from septic to sewer.

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