The Deep Dive Blog /

Let Them Eat Lettuce

Breaking manatee news: the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) are planning to resume supplemental feeding for manatees in the Indian River Lagoon this winter.

In 2021, FWC recorded 1,101 manatee deaths, many due to starvation, which set the stage for the first supplemental feeding trial of its kind. Warm water refuge sites for wintering manatees used to house acres of eelgrass that manatees would naturally forage on. Nutrient runoff and pollution have created toxic algae blooms that choke out aquatic plants like eelgrass and seagrass. Now all that remains are food deserts for an animal that typically would consume almost 10% of its body weight per day.

In addition to the nearly $2 million dollars our Foundation has raised to replant eel and seagrasses along the east coast of Florida, we are the sole purchaser of the lettuce used in the supplemental feeding. Last year, donors like you helped us raise $168,340 to supply more than 200,000 pounds of lettuce for the manatee feeding trial. This year, FWC biologists anticipate the need for double that amount, 400,000 pounds of lettuce. DUDA is generously selling us the lettuce this year at a steep discount to help with the grocery bill. And in addition to allowing FWC and USFWS to stage the feeding at their Cape Canaveral plant, Florida Power & Light has jumpstarted purchases with a $25,000 donation through its charitable arm the NextEra Energy Foundation.

But we still need your help again this year. Any amount will make a difference and literally put food in manatees’ mouths (friendly reminder, it is still illegal to feed manatees; only FWC and USFWS are permitted to do so). Luckily, we’ve partnered with a few more local businesses to make saving manatees easier.

Manatee Coffee

Throughout November, 10% of all proceeds ordered from Manatee Coffee’s website will be donated to our Marine Mammal Fund to support the supplemental feeding trial. Manatee Coffee sources, blends, and roasts 100% Arabica coffee beans and offers flavors from Caribbean delight, eggspresso nog, and sea salt caramel.

Brush & Board of Apollo Beach

Board & Brush Creative Studios brings fun to DIY wood signs. Their Apollo Beach location, just minutes from the TECO Manatee Viewing Center, recently opened. To celebrate, they’re offering a limited-edition manatee sign for you to paint in their workshop. $10 of every project will be donated to our Marine Mammal Fund to support the supplemental feeding trial. Love the design, but can’t make it to their workshop? Brush & Board is happy to complete your sign for you and ship it to your home. Sign up for a workshop in Apollo Beach here. Reminder: Brush & Board does not permit BYOB, but they do supply complimentary beer and wine at their workshops!

WOB Bar & Kitchen

Caring for the environment is thirsty work. Thanks to our partnership with World of Beer, $1 of every purchase of their Secret Llama IPA will support manatee conservation. Click here to find the closest participating location.

Florida’s manatees are an iconic species. Keep them full this winter by donating to our Marine Mammal Fund today.

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