Conservation efforts to preserve the Florida manatee appear to be working well.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have reported that numbers of manatees spotted off the East and West coasts of Florida are consistent with numbers recorded in previous years – in fact, they’re higher than before.
In a preliminary count performed by 16 manatee observers from 11 different organizations, 3,292 manatees were spotted off of Florida’s East coast, while 2,958 manatees were spotted off of Florida’s West coast, making for a grand total of 6,250.
The number is a few notches up from last year’s head count of 6,063, which is a good sign for the species which went from vulnerable to endangered in 2007.
These head counts are performed annually from the skies at this time of the year by these observer teams to estimate the footprint of the manatee in Florida’s coastal waters.
“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.
Weather conditions are said to have a great impact on the success of these head counts, and this year’s weather was great, allowing for the teams to have a good spotting experience.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is positively reflecting on these numbers, saying that 2015 and 2016 are the only years where this number has exceeded 6,000.
With the numbers increasing, it looks like maintaining efforts may continue to help the manatee survive, and potentially out-live its current status in the wild.
Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission