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Florida Matters

Florida Matters: Studying Cuba’s Manatees

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Lottie Watts
/
WUSF News
Florida Matters host Carson Cooper with Dr. James "Buddy" Powell and WUSF news director Steve Newborn at the Donis Studio at WUSF Public Media.

Florida's population of the iconic manatee has risen in recent years, so much so that federal  wildlife officials say they're no longer endangered, and could be down-listed to threatened by next year. 

Public comment on the status change is now under way. 

"When a species is endangered, it often means that it’s in the intensive care unit. It is really the last hope to save the species,” said Mike Oetker with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “By moving to a threatened status, what we recognize is it’s no longer in that intensive care status."

Cuba has an extensive population of manatees, making it the perfect place to study them.

Last spring, we sat down with WUSF's Steve Newborn and manatee researcher Dr. James "Buddy" Powell (with Sarasota-based conservation group Sea To Shore Alliance), just after they returned from an expedition to Cuba.  We're taking another listen to that conversation this week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 31 at 7:30 a.m.).