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Florida Manatee Count Reaches Record High

On Monday, state scientists released an annual survey that tallied 6,063 manatees statewide. That’s a record-high number of manatees wintering in Florida this year.


Biologists counted 3,333 manatees on Florida’s east coast and 2,730 on the state’s west coast.


The survey was based on a two-week count that was conducted in February and shows about a thousand more wintering manatees than the previous record set in 2010, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Brandon Basino.


Biologist suspect the increase in manatees is due to warm weather conditions between cold fronts. The warm weather causes the mammals to surface in order to absorb the sun’s warm rays, making it easy for biologists to see and count them. 


Biologists have no definite way of knowing whether numbers are actually up or down due to the fact that they do not have an accurate idea of how many manatees they may have missed counting in any given year.


The annual manatee count began in 1991, surveying the mammals by plane. In past years though, weather conditions have prevented counts. Biologists also try to cover as much of the state as possible in just a few days in order to avoid double counting.