What Orlando is talking about
Unprecedented steps are being taken to preserve Florida’s manatee population. As detailed by WLRN, “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and Florida Power & Light Company announced combined efforts Wednesday to reduce manatee deaths that have reached a record level this year.” Notably, the plan notably involves implementing a feeding program in the Indian River Lagoon.
Feeding wild creatures is usually a discouraged practice, as it can alter animals’ behaviors and have negative ripple effects on ecosystems. However, environmental experts say that the situation is so dire for Florida’s manatees that it’s become necessary to intervene.
“This is a necessary stopgap measure,” Save The Manatee Club Executive Director Patrick Rose told the Associated Press. “It is a problem created by man and man is going to have to solve it.”
The AP report elaborates: “The emerging plan would involve feeding manatees at a Florida Power & Light plant in Cape Canaveral, along the Indian River Lagoon on the east coast where manatees congregate in cold winter months because of the warm water discharge from the plant. It would be an experiment involving lettuce, cabbage, and other greens delivered in a controlled manner such as via a conveyor belt.” However, the plan has not yet been finalized and would not allow for individuals to begin feeding manatees themselves.
Veterinarian and marine mammal expert Martine de Wit told the Florida Phoenix that this sort of undertaking is uncharted territory. “Biologists have sometimes provided ‘supplemental feeding’ — loads of hay — for elk and deer living in national wildlife refuges,’ she said, ’but it’s never been done with marine animals.’”
A recent NPR report explained how “a massive die-off of seagrass has left [manatees] without enough to eat,” leading to 2021’s unfortunate distinction as the most deadly year on record for the iconic Florida sea cow. More than 1,000 manatees — roughly 10% of the statewide population — have died over the last 12 months.
In other news…
🎄Santa is being portrayed by Black cast members at Disney parks for the first time in history. The company never made an official announcement and instead relied on park-goers to perceive the change and spread the news themselves. However, a Disney spokesperson told CNN that the park wanted to reflect the myriad ways Santa Claus is represented in regional communities around the world. (WKMG)
🎶 Country artist Garth Brooks will kick off his spring 2022 North American tour in Orlando. It’s the only Florida stop this go-round for the popular crooner and one of the two big stadium shows happening at Camping World Stadium next March. (Billy Joel is set to perform two weeks prior.) Tickets go on sale Friday, Dec. 17, and start at $94.95. (Orlando Weekly)
⚽️️ Florida is trying to score a major win in the world of international soccer. The Enterprise Florida Board of Directors agreed to allocate $10 million toward Miami and Orlando’s goals of becoming host cities for the 2026 FIFA World Cup soccer tournament. The Greater Orlando Sports Commission and the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau will each receive $5 million to be put toward their respective city’s campaigns. (FOX 35 Orlando / News Service of Florida)
💜 The Orlando Pride has a new head coach — and chances are you might recognize her. Amanda Cromwell spent 14 years as head coach for the women’s soccer team at the University of Central Florida before moving to California to coach the UCLA Bruins in 2013. (Orlando City SC)
⛳️ Tiger Woods’ return to the world of competitive golf is happening right here in Orlando. Next week, Tiger and his 12-year-old son Charlie will compete in the PNC Championship, an annual fun tournament for major athletes and their family members. The duo placed seventh in last year’s tourney, which also happened to be the last time Tiger played professionally before his car crash in February. (ESPN)
🏈 As long as we’re tackling Orlando sports, former UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton will play in the all-star Hula Bowl when it comes to O-Town on Jan. 15. (Orlando Sentinel)