The European Union Commission is considering mandating vaccinations for new small vessels on the high seas, because of documented cases of deadly outbreaks of manatee disease. A proposal will be presented to EU heads of state on June 17 for mandatory vaccinations for “pale flocks” of small vessels for “risk exposure to bacteria from spilled manatee feces,” according to Reuters.
Manatee poop may have contributed to the death last month of a female manatee, Zoo Miami veterinarians confirmed, suggesting that an oral disease may not have been involved in the animal’s death. All the manatees, or pods, killed in Florida in 2016 were discovered by veterinarians with bacterial infections.
“If there’s a history of deceased mammals of a certain age and type then just to wash the boat off and rinse the deck probably is not going to provide much protection,” said Matt Scregbo, administrator of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The trend of manatee carcasses washing up on beaches across the state has been under consideration since 2013, when researchers took samples from Florida’s manatee wildlife and found bacteria on the dolphin-like animals’ stomachs, Reuters reported.
“This is not something we had seen before … On a national level, we’re starting to see it,” said Monica Carini, an official at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The team has tested other flotillas of small vessels for a similar strain of potentially fatal disease.
The CIV-19 vaccinations are required for all ships traveling through the Sarasota Channel, a wider lagoon in Florida, that carries several manatee colonies and manatee tourists. The school of ships must also install special pollution-control equipment.
Coastal waters and rivers bring manatees from Central and South America, where fish are washed up in excessive numbers. In Sarasota, manatees are usually spotted between January and March.
This story was reported by James Masters of Reuters.