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Florida red tide episode kills record number of sea turtles

A Florida red tide outbreak close to 16 months old has killed more sea turtles than any previous single red tide event on record, and manatee deaths are not far behind.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission attributed 589 sea turtles and 213 manatee deaths to this episode of red tide, which began in late 2017. It had killed 127 bottlenose dolphins as of Dec. 20, leading the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to declare an unusual mortality event.

Combined manatee deaths from red tide, human actions, cold stress and other causes are 824, according to a preliminary FWC report. A previous die-off killed 803 manatees in 2013 during another red tide bloom.

Preliminary data from FWC showed that the 824 manatee deaths in 2018 from both red tide, sickness and human-related causes surpassed the previous record of 803 set during another red tide outbreak in 2013.

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