Annual Manatee Count Breaks Record in Florida

For the third year in a row, the annual attempt to count the manatees swimming in Florida's waterways has broken the previous year's record.

An annual count statewide has revealed that the number of manatees in Florida, whether dead or alive, is recovering.

Back in 1991, there were only 1,267 manatees. Otherwise, manatees won't be counted if they can not be seen.

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.

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Between Jan. 30 and February 2, 15 people from 10 organizations counted 3,488 individuals on the state's east coast and 3,132 on the west coast, for a grand total of 6,620 manatees.

McRae, in the statement, said successful conservation involves many organizations.

Editor's Note: The West Indian Manatee is still classified as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The future is looking up for Florida's manatee population.

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Florida manatees are thriving during this warm, sunny winter. "Today's proposal is not only about recognizing this progress, but it's also about recommitting ourselves to ensuring the manatee's long-term success and recovery". Christina Martin, an attorney for the foundation, said Save Crystal River is concerned the federal government "might adopt more and more restrictions that would be harmful to their community". "If the major threats to a species are still in existence, a downlisted species is likely to need to be re-listed as endangered eventually, and in the meantime population declines could pose a threat of extinction". "I am hopeful they will have something and we don't have to sue".

Protection measures now in place would remain in force if the species is downlisted from endangered to threatened, the agency has stated. In the latest survey, 520 manatees died, 104 of which through boats. The organization also has cited the vulnerability of the animals to cold weather and red tide, a harmful algal bloom. "You don't celebrate when you're not done with the game". Apparently, scientists are not aware of the exact number of manatees.

Endangered species are defined as now at risk of extinction through the entire or a significant part of their range. "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".

The manatee remains protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

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