Are Manatees Dying off a Grim Omen of a Tax Increase for Florida?

Malinda Fusco

If you haven't heard, Florida manatees are dying off in mass amounts this year, found washed up on shores all over the state. The question is this: What is causing manatees to die more than in past years? Experts have puzzled it out, and it doesn't look good for the manatees, humans, or even our future tax dollars.

This article discusses why manatees are dying more than ever and what it could mean for future taxes.

A Manatee Crisis

It's only June, halfway through the year, and manatees are sadly dying far quicker than ever before. In fact, more than ten percent of the manatee population in Florida has already died this year at 761 deaths. According to wildlife officials, that is more than last year's total manatee deaths.

So, why? What is killing off the manatees? Why are they found washed up on Florida shores, sickly or dead?

The answer: water pollution. And yes, it's a huge problem. Jaclyn Lopez, director for the Center for Biological Diversity, actually called it a crisis.

“I think it’s fair to call it a crisis. It’s not hyperbole when you see hundreds of manatees dying like this.”

Water Pollution and Our Gentle Giants
Shawn Hempel/Adobe Stock

After much debate and testing, experts have determined that the primary cause of the spike in manatee deaths is none other than water pollution. Let me explain.

Water pollution isn't necessarily killing the manatees directly, but rather is wreaking so much havoc on their environment that they are dying. It's a three-step, catastrophic process:

  1. Polluted water makes its way into our ecosystem.
  2. The polluted water kills off and stunts the growth of seagrass, the main part of a manatee's diet, thus wiping out entire underwater pastures.
  3. Manatees are unable to find enough food, get sick, starve, and die.

Manatees require a hearty diet of seagrass and other nutrients to sustain their massive bodies and keep a healthy metabolism.

Furthermore, manatees are considered a "sentinel species." That means that their welfare is an indicator of the welfare of the ecosystem that they live in, and really all of Florida. So if they're doing poorly, it means bad news for the rest of the ecosystem and our tax dollars.

A Recent Tax Increase for Water Pollution; One Example
Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash

When water is so polluted that it needs immediate attention, what happens? We need to fix it, right? Well, how do we fix it? Usually, tax dollars.

In just September of 2020, the South Florida Water Management District announced that they planned to spend over a billion-dollar budget to improve the water quality of a Florida lake. They intended to do so by using a property tax rate of $26.75 for every $100k of taxable property value.

This is just one example, but there are many more.

Are manatees dying off an indicator of a tax increase for Florida?

If water pollution continues as it is in Florida and the manatees continue to die off, what will happen? Obviously, the water quality will need to be restored to an acceptable level, one that will not harm the ecosystem or the manatees.

Based on past experiences with water pollution, it's safe to say that manatees dying off in mass droves could be a grim omen of a future tax increase for Florida.

What do you think?

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