Published: Thu, February 23, 2017
Research | By Francis Brooks

Florida's manatee population above 6000 for third year

The survey which was recently developed managed to count 3,488 manatees on Florida's east coast and 3,132 more on the state's west coast.

Manatees have been classified as endangered since the first federal list came out in 1967. An aerial study which ended at the beginning of this month presented a total number of 6,620 manatees.

Florida residents have counted a massive number of manatees swimming in Florida waters this year.

Some 6,620 manatees were counted during a three day survey between January 30 and February 2, based on preliminary results released this week by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. That raises concern for state wildlife officials and manatee advocates.

The marine mammals need warm water to survive, congregating around 72-degree springs or warm water released from power plants during winter.

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Some in the state have questioned the effectiveness of boating speed zones meant to protect the species. "For example, there's a low level of "take" (such as accidental death or injury) that is allowed for a threatened species in the course of management activities, whereas that take (and thus any risky activities) is prohibited for an endangered species".

Manatees like the one pictured have been spotted in Florida's waters, according to findings from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Attempting to spot manatees for the count can be hard, since they only surface every five minutes or so to breathe. "Therefore, for management agencies, there's more flexibility when dealing with a threatened species than there is for an endangered species". You can also purchase a subscription and have full access to the site. "We're happy that the manatee is doing well, and we just want the government to follow the requirements". A period of public comment ended April a year ago. More information about manatees can also be found on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's website.

"All comments and information received during the public comment [phase] are given consideration during the status review", Charles Underwood, spokesman for the service's North Florida Ecological Services Office, tells the Monitor via email. The agency's other argument for changing the listing: a computer model that shows they now stand little chance of going extinct.

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