BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. (WESH) - Manatees are dying in surprising numbers in Brevard County.
Of the four dead manatees reported, one was only about two weeks old.
"This one is likely cold stress," said state biologist Ann Spellman. It's definitely underweight and has cold stress sores on its face.
"We've had a lot of manatee deaths. It has been unusually high all around the state," said state biologist Jackie Ludema.
Biologists said the number of the dead endangered species would be 40 for this year alone by the end of the day, even though the winter has been relatively warm.
It's not so much how cold it got, but its the warm weather followed by the cold weather.
The warm weather brings the manatees out to places where they are more vulnerable. The manatees then get caught too far away from warm water near power plants.
Critics of the state's manatee protection efforts said the power plants have changed the manatees' habits, keeping many from migrating to South Florida.
They spend the winters in cooler climates, where the cold can kill them.
Cold is not the only reason the sea cows are dying, although information is not available for all the deaths. It's too early to tell if anything can be done.
Kayakers and other nature lovers are concerned.
"These cold winters, the up and down with it getting really cold and really hot, it's hard for them to adapt," said kayaker Sarah Munkacsy.
"This is an animal that we can have an impact on," said Ludema. "I do this because we have a potential to change here."
Any manatees found dead should be reported to the state fish and wildlife agency.