Thursday, May 24, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: The threat to Florida's manatees

The state needs to figure out what's killing Florida manatees at an alarming rate. The record kill-off this year, coming as the state's waters get more polluted, should be a wake-up call to state lawmakers and regulators, and a reminder to the voting public that protecting the environment must be serious work and not a political slogan.

With days remaining before the end of 2013, the number of manatee deaths in a single year has topped 800, reaching that mark for the first time since records in Florida started being kept in the 1970s. The number of manatee deaths as of mid December stood at 803, or about 16 percent of the state's estimated population of 5,000 manatees. And 173 of the dead were breeding-age females.

The tally breaks the old record for manatee deaths set in 2010, which resulted from a lengthy cold snap that killed hundreds, pushing that year's death toll to 766. But that cold weather was an anomaly. And it mostly affected younger manatees that had not yet reached breeding age.

A massive bloom of Red Tide along the state's southwest coast caused 276 deaths early this year. Red Tide, a harmful algae bloom growing out of control, has been around for centuries. But this year's was the worst Red Tide die-off ever recorded.

Government and nonprofit scientists are also investigating what killed more than 110 manatees in the Indian River Lagoon. That die-off began in 2012 and hit a high mark in March. The deaths may be linked to pollution-fueled algae blooms that have wiped out some 47,000 acres of sea grass in the waterway — a dietary staple for the manatee. The loss of sea grass may have forced manatees in the lagoon to seek less healthy food sources, such as toxin-laden seaweed.

Officials need to commit the resources necessary to identify the problem in the lagoon in a timely manner. And lawmakers and regulators alike need to look across the board and impose tighter controls on the runoff of sewage and other nutrients. This coastal pollution certainly affects more species than the manatees.

In the meantime, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should not grant a petition being considered that would downgrade the status of manatees from an endangered to a threatened species. With this year's die-off, the mystery over what's happening in the Indian River Lagoon and the declining health of Florida's springs, this is no time to begin scaling back protections for manatees. This is a time for science and caution, and an urgency of effort.

Comments

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyang’s nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Korea’s Kim Jong ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18