The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission counted a record number of manatees during its annual synoptic survey conducted two weeks ago.
A team of 21 observers counted 2,153 manatees on Florida’s Atlantic Coast and 1,654 on the Gulf Coast of the state, for a total of 3,807. That tops the previous high count from 2001 by more than 500 manatees.
The FWC notes that in both years survey conditions were favorable for aerial observations. The commission also says this year’s survey results are consistent with population models that show the manatee population appears to be increasing in Northwest Florida, along the AtlanticCoast and on the upper St. Johns River.
“Several cold fronts passed through Florida over a short time period, causing a large number of manatees to move to warm-water sites,” said Holly Edwards, a biologist with the FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, in a statement. “Good weather conditions allowed the manatees to be easily seen and counted, contributing to this year’s high count.”
For information about manatees and synoptic surveys, click here.