More than 6,000 manatees were counted in Florida, for the fourth consecutive year.
The count was part of a statewide annual aerial survey.
The survey serves as a loose population count. It’s conducted during Florida’s coldest days as manatees gather for warmth near deep canals, natural springs and power plants.
Pat Rose of the Save the Manatee Club says even though the number is among the highest on record it’s not necessarily indicative of a healthy population. He points to last year.
“This year was the third-highest mortality year for manatees in recorded history. It tied with the all-time record for watercraft deaths. There was substantial loss of manatees to red tide.”
Scientists and staff members from 10 government agencies and research organizations conducted the survey. The manatee was downlisted from endangered to threatened last year.