(Mirror Daily, United States) – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission came with great news about the Florida manatees, as the conservation workers counted 6,620 specimens. These animals live in Florida’s canals, springs, and lagoons.
This is the third consecutive year when the annual count shows that the population of the manatees has increased. However, during the aerial survey, the FWC experts observed that most of the specimens were gathering together in warm waters which were artificially heated by power plants.
Also, they noted that the mortality rate among Florida manatees has increased. According to Katie Tripp, the director of science and conservation at the Save the Manatee Club, regulators rely too much on this artificial habitat, although they can’t control it.
Tripp noted that the power plants in Brevard County have roughly 1,200 manatees. Even if these power plants somehow provide the ideal habitat for the manatees, thus facilitating their recovery, Tripp refuses to celebrate such a victory, labeling it as artificial.
Fifteen observers participated in the latest count. Fortunately, the weather conditions were ideal for surveying thanks to clear skies, little wind, and cool temperatures. The researchers spotted 3,132 manatees on the west coast as well as 3,488 on the east coast.
In the last year’s count, the observers counted 6,250, whereas, in 2015, they tallied 6,063. It is important to mention that 2015 was the first year when the number of Florida manatees passed the 6,000 mark. On the other hand, the mortality rate has increased as well.
More precisely, 520 specimens died last year out of which 104 were killed by boats. In 2015, other 405 died, whereas the record was set in 2013, when 828 manatees died. This species moves inland during winter, and because of this they were easily hunted for meat and hides and almost went extinct a few decades ago.
The FWC researchers conducted the first annual count in 1991 when they found less than 1,300 animals. Thanks to the conservation efforts and new state regulations, the manatee population is now five times higher than it was more than 25 years ago.
As such, the experts might change this species’ status from endangered to threatened. However, the FWC officials will continue to do their best to protect and preserve the manatees in Florida as they are one of the state’s symbols.