Manatees in Florida waters are dying at a record level mainly due to starvation from the loss of seagrass beds, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The deaths are mostly happening near the coastal Brevard County near Orlando.

There have been 841 recorded manatee deaths in the first half of 2021. The previous record for manatee deaths was 830 in 2013 due to a toxic-red tide outbreak. In 2020, there were 637 manatee deaths in Florida waters.

The manatee population had recovered after being considered endangered but the latest surge in deaths has put them in danger again.

Manatees eat “water grasses, weeds, and algae,” according to National Geographic.

The Indian River Lagoon, home to more than 4,300 species of plants and animals, has become algae-dominated and unhealthy for all sea animals. Some biologists expect that the loss of seagrass and contamination could be from water pollution.

The manatee death rate has been a concern for months. In June, a top Florida official told the Washington Post that it was a "crisis."

“It's not hyperbole when you see hundreds of manatees dying like this,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity.

Martine de Wit, a veterinarian with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, told the New York Times in June that manatees' deaths from starvation "signals there is something very wrong with the water quality.”

There have been recent reports of major water pollution in Florida. In April, Florida experienced a water crisis after a collapse of a wastewater reservoir from a former phosphate mine.

Manatees can also fall victim to boat strikes, which were the cause of 63 deaths in 2021.

Manatees moved from endangered to threatened in 2017 after the population saw a sharp uptick. To bring the number of manatee lives back to previous levels, environmentalists are asking for them to be reconsidered as endangered again.