Manatee Numbers In Florida Steady
The number of manatees in Florida seems to be steady, according to a study released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The commission has reported a preliminary count of 6,250 manatees statewide. A team of 16 observers from 11 organizations counted 3,292 manatees on the state's Atlantic coast and 2,958 on the Gulf coast.
That's just above the numbers found in a survey last year, when 6,063 were counted.
State wildlife officials say during both years, "very good" survey conditions were found. Both 2015 and 2016 are the only two years on record for which the count has exceeded 6,000 mammals.
“Weather conditions can greatly impact our counts. Fortunately, the conditions during this year’s survey were very good,” commission biologist Holly Edwards said in a prepared statement. "Because some animals go undetected, these counts represent the minimum number of manatees known to be in the survey area on the day of the survey."
Aerial surveys are conducted every year - usually in the colder months, when the cold-sensitive animals gather around warm springs and power plant outflows.
“The survey is flown during the cold weather, providing broad-scale information about manatee distribution among warm-water sites that the species requires to survive,” said Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute Director Gil McRae.
He says information obtained by the survey enables wildlife and resource managers to better understand and conserve Florida’s state marine mammal.
To report a dead or distressed manatee, call the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).