Record manatees seen in statewide count

Posted February 23, 2017

For the third year in a row, locals have counted more than six thousand manatees which were swimming into Florida's waters. The West Indian manatee includes the Florida manatee. The higher than 6,000 manatee numbers can be attributed to favorable weather conditions. That's a far cry from the estimated 1,267 manatees seen in 1991.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has reported a preliminary count of 6,620 manatees in Florida waters.

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.

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

But despite these concerns, manatees have been on the path to "threatened" status since 2007, when the Department of the Interior, which heads the US Fish and Wildlife Service, completed a 5-year status review of the species and recommended reclassifying them.

Attempting to spot manatees for the count can be hard, since they only surface every five minutes or so to breathe.

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The research was praised by Columbia University's Jonathan Posner as " an important contribution " to the study of the condition. The differences in brain sizes are not the result of psychostimulants, which some of those who have ADHD take as medication.

"The manatee's recovery is incredibly encouraging and a great testament to the conservation actions of many", Cindy Dohner, the Southeast regional director for US Fish and Wildlife, said at the time.

The proposal of changing the status is not only meant to recognize the progress, but it is also intended to promise ourselves that we will keep the recovered population of manatees safe. The public comment period closed the following April, but the service still has not announced its final decision.

The foundation has represented residents who formed the organization Save Crystal River.

Martin said the agency should "focus on the species most in need of being saved from going extinct". Then, in 2012, the Pacific Legal Foundation petitioned the agency to downlist them. "There's a lot more work to be done to safeguard the habitat, to get manatees removed from the Endangered Species Act altogether". "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 state government and conservation groups worked to revive its population, including setting up no-wake zones to protect the mammals.