Two manatees in the Florida Keys were killed earlier this week in the same area from boat strikes, according to a Key Largo marine mammal rescue organization.
It’s not clear if both mammals — an adult and a juvenile — died from the same boat strike. But, both manatees’ bodies were found near Grouper Creek a day apart from each other.
The adult female was found Monday, and the juvenile on Tuesday, according to the Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder team.
The nonprofit is one of several in the Keys certified with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the National Marine Fisheries Service to respond to marine mammal emergencies, including mass strandings.
On Saturday, a witness called the FWC to report a fast-moving boat struck at least one manatee, and “possibly a mother calf pair,” Dolphins Plus said in a Facebook post Friday. The boat’s driver did not stop, witnesses said.
“On scene boaters were helpless and observed one of the critically injured manatees struggling to stay afloat in the mangrove roots,” the post reads.
Volunteers searched the area the rest of the day and Sunday, but it wasn’t until Monday that the first manatee’s body was found, according to the post.
Officer Bobby Dube, spokesman for the FWC in the Keys, said as of now, the agency thinks the manatees were killed in two separate strikes.
“I believe it’s highly unlikely that one boat could run over two separate manatees at the same time,” Dube said. “It’s very sad and unfortunate that this happened.”
Anyone who sees an injured or dead marine mammal is asked to call the FWC at 888-404-FWCC.