Manatee found dead in Caloosahatchee
Sep 07, 2012 6:30 PM EDT
By Leigh Dana
FORT MYERS, FL -
It's a peaceful Friday morning along the Caloosahatchee. But Boni Raitt can't get her mind off what she witnessed near her Fort Myers home Thursday.
"I walked over here with my dog and there were about 4-5 manatees. They were jumping around, having a lot of fun. I never see manatees," said Raitt.
Then all of a sudden, "from something joyful to something tragic. It was heartbreaking," she exclaimed.
Raitt saw an 11-foot manatee floating in the water -- dead.
"I was in shock when I saw that and my heart just dropped," exclaimed Raitt.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission picked up the manatee and sent it to a marine laboratory in St. Petersburg. A team of biologists can't say for sure what killed the manatee.
From January to August of this year, there were 51 reported manatee deaths in Lee County. That's up 9 from 2011 according to FWC.
Right now, Lee County has the second highest number of deaths in the state, after Brevard County.
FWC cites several reasons why: a high manatee population, a lot of watercraft crashes and because people are looking for manatees in the water.
"It could be they are just more prone to be reported to us compared to other places that are more remote," explained Martine Dewit, a veterinarian with FWC