Southeast
Seagrass is food for hundreds of thousands of animals, and home to even more. The loss of seagrass has been especially hard on manatees that graze on it. Show less NIGEL COOK/NEWS-JOURNAL

FL - The Indian River Lagoon has lost 46,000 acres of seagrass, and manatees are starving

Tens of thousands of acres of seagrass that is critical to the health of the Indian River Lagoon have disappeared. It's threatening a number of species, including manatees, who depend on seagrass for food.

Sine 2009, 58% of the seagrass in the lagoon system has disappeared, choked off from sunlight as a result of an over-saturation of nutrients in the water, according to the St. Johns River Water Management District. The nutrients are a result of fertilizer, septic tank and road runoff into the lagoon.

Seagrass is food for hundreds of thousands of animals, and home to even more. The loss of seagrass has been especially hard on the manatees that graze on it.

An expert who has spent 40 years studying manatees in Central Florida said dead manatees are being found with nearly nothing in their stomachs.

"This is the first time I've seen them starving," said Patrick Rose, the executive director of the Save the Manatee Club. "It's been out of control. Essentially, it's an emergency."

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