The starving manatees are easy enough to spot. You can see their ribs through their skin. They surface to breathe more than normal. Those most in need appear off balance, listing to one side.
As manatee deaths spike and Florida rescue centers fill up with malnourished animals, federal and state wildlife officials are trying something new in an urgent effort to help the species through the winter: They will provide food, as needed, at a key location on the state’s east coast where hundreds of manatees cluster when water temperatures drop.