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Tests show a polluted environment the cause of manatee deaths in Tabasco

Mexico City, Mexico — A polluted environment, drought, high temperatures and excess nutrients that encouraged the flowering of harmful algae were some of the factors that caused the death of 48 manatees in Tabasco.

The report was released by the Procuraduría Federal de Protección al Ambiente (Profepa) who says that the findings were that of the Comité Interinstitucional who, after numerous tests, concluded that the death of the manatees was due to multiple factors.

Their report says that combination of these multiple factors created a stressful environment that led to their deaths. They say that testing included monitoring of living organisms, autopsies and laboratory analysis, as well as quality water testing and the verification of Pemex facilities and industry in the area.

What they found was the presence of diverse pathogens in the manatees along with the toxicity of heavy metals and pesticides adding that environmental conditions for that time of the year such as drought, high temperatures and water conditions of alkalinity and excess nutrients were the cause of the deaths.

The combination of factors created an environment that promoted the development of harmful algae generators of cyanotoxins (blue-green algae), which caused a stressful environment that killed not only manatees, but also other species such as devil fish and herbivorous carps.

Over the course of approximately five months, dozens of manatees were found deceased in several water areas around the state of Tabasco, most of which were concentrated around Estación Tres Brazos of the Reserva de la Biósfera Pantanos de Centla.

Manatees are protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. There is thought to be around 13,000 manatees left globally.