Dix the manatee, one of the stars of Blue Spring State Park, was recently found dead in DeLand, just north of the springs.
After assessing her injuries, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said that she died from an acute watercraft collision.
Dix rose to fame by bringing three calves into the Blue Spring area, fearlessly hanging around an alligator, and being an overall, friendly creature adored by visitors and locals alike.
The death of this popular manatee highlights an escalating problem of more manatees than usual getting struck and killed by boats.
According to the FWC, Volusia County has the third highest watercraft related manatee death rate in Florida, only behind Lee and Broward counties. Over 120 manatees died because of collisions in 2018, according to the FWC’s manatee mortality report.
"The number of manatees getting hit by boats this year has really gone up. Overall, we had 300 manatees being killed this year, and out of those, 81 of those manatees were killed by boats, says Cora Bercham of the Save the Manatee Club to Spectrum News.
As manatee populations increase in Blue Spring and surrounding areas, the number of watercraft related manatee deaths also increase, according to Berchem. Summer is when manatees migrate, so they are not as concentrated in springs like they are during manatee season.