Manatees Finally Return to These Restored Florida Rivers
Manatees Finally Return to These Restored Florida Rivers
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Crystal River has long been a safe haven for the Florida manatee, but when an invasive algae wiped out the eelgrass that manatees need for food, the community rallied to restore the river and save the animals that call it home.

After an unexpected storm forever changed Crystal River more than three decades ago, Lisa Moore founded Save Crystal River to rally the community to garner funding for a massive restoration project. Sea and Shoreline’s Jessica Mailliez demonstrates the dirty work they do to remove invasive algae and restore native eelgrass. This transformation has allowed Florida manatees to return to Crystal River, but for those living along the west coast of the state, the situation is much more dire.  

There, manatees are declining fast — nearly two thousand have died from starvation since 2020 along the Indian River Lagoon. Zoo Tampa has been rescuing as many starving manatees as they can hold, saving them from death and prepping them for re-release into the wild. Fortunately for the manatees ready to return to the wild, they have a safe destination: Crystal River. The strides made in that small community hold promise for a path forward for manatees across the state.

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