Tampa Eletric - Apollo Beach (FWC)
Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) biologists reported a preliminary count of
4,831 manatees in Florida during this year's statewide aerial survey, conducted
in late January.
"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 FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.
Over two days, Jan. 24 and
27, a team of 20 observers from nine organizations counted 2,317 manatees on
Florida's east coast and 2,514 on the west coast of the state. The final
numbers will be available once the survey data is verified.
"We are encouraged by the relatively high count, especially given
the high number of manatee deaths documented recently," said McRae.
Biologists credited a series of several strong cold fronts Florida saw recently, which caused manatees to gather at warm-water sites, with aiding in the count. Statewide aerial surveys were not conducted during the past two winters because the weather was too warm.
Florida residents can help
manatees by purchasing a manatee
specialty license plate
and a manatee decal. Funds from the license plate
and decal support manatee research and conservation. Go to BuyaPlate.com to
learn more about the license plate and MyFWC.com/ManateeSeaTurtleDecals to purchase a decal. Both
items are available at county tax collectors' offices.
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