MIAMI (CBSMiami) – State wildlife officials say they are encouraged by the findings of this year’s manatee count.

On January 24th and 27th, a team of 20 observers from nine organizations counted 4,831 manatees; 2,317 on the east coast and 2,514 on the west coast.

“This year’s manatee count is the third highest we have recorded since the first statewide aerial survey in 1991,” said Gil McRae, director of the Florida Wildlife and Conservation Commission’s research institute. “We are encouraged by the relatively high count, especially given the high number of manatee deaths documented recently.”

The goal of the annual survey is to count as many manatees as possible which provides researchers with a minimum number for manatees in state waters and a snapshot of where they are at the time of the survey. Since weather conditions and manatee behavior during the survey have a large effect on survey counts. Because these factors vary from year to year, this count cannot be used to determine long-term population trends.

“After two winters of above-average temperatures, this year we received several consecutive, strong cold fronts that helped to gather manatees at warm-water sites where they could be more easily counted,” said FWC manatee biologist Holly Edwards.

The survey information helps managers better protect this endangered species.


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