BEACON TRANSCRIPT – A recent wildlife count has revealed that the populations of manatees in Florida are growing. The count, performed by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, recorded 6,620 manatees in Florida’s canals, lagoons, and springs.
This was the third year when they recorded a growth in their populations. Also, this impressive improvement came a year after the environment officials started pondering whether they should remove the manatee from the endangered species list.
The count was performed by 15 observers. The results were encouraging, recording 3,132 specimens on the west coast and 3,488 on the east coast. This year’s count has been the most fruitful since 2015, when the observers first found a number of manatees above 6,000.
Even the number of manatee deaths was higher. They discovered 520 deaths, out of which 104 occurred because of boats. The previous registered number of deaths was 405.
However, the experts do not want to take quick decisions, since they are not completely convinced that manatees are no longer in danger. For instance, Katie Tripp, science and conservation director at Save the Manatee Club, declared that they could not celebrate yet, since the aerial surveys of the manatee populations showed an increase in the death rate of these specimens.
Also, they discovered that manatees tend to linger in waters which are heated by power plants. This suggests that their natural homes should be preserved in warm springs, since some randomly occurring cold snaps may kill many specimens.
During winter, the manatees around Florida usually come inland. They have a history of being hunted for their meat and almost disappeared, especially when snowbirds started populating the warm waters they used to live in.
The government and environment officials took measures to prevent the extinction of manatees and this led to their resurgence by over 500 percent. This made the officials ponder the idea of downlisting the species from endangered to threatened.
They published this proposal in the Federal Register last year, on February 8th, since they were convinced they had achieved conservation progress regarding the manatees and a long term positive status for them.
There are different opinions regarding this issue. While some think that manatees are still in danger and people should not start neglecting them, others find a downlisting necessary, since conservation efforts should focus on the species that need it most.
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