TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – State wildlife officials have tallied a record number of manatees in their annual survey of the endangered marine mammals.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Monday that it counted 6,063 manatees this year.
The state conducts the aerial surveys each year, depending on the weather. Biologist Holly Edwards says this year's survey was helped by sunny weather that led manatees to bask at the surface as they crowded into warm waters.
The 2015 tally tops the previous record set in 2010 by about 1,000 manatees. That doesn't mean Florida's manatee population has grown by that much, but commission chairman Richard Corbett says counting over 6,000 manatees shows that long-term manatee conservation efforts are working.
The federal government is reviewing whether the manatee population has rebounded enough to be reclassified as a threatened, not endangered, species.