Record 6 250 manatees spotted in Florida waters

2016-02-26 15:50
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Miami - The number of manatees in the waters around Florida have reached a new peak of at least 6 250, conservationists say...a record reflecting years of efforts to protect the marine mammals.

The count is up slightly from the 6 063 spotted last year, the Florida fish and wildlife conservation commission said in a statement, citing results from surveys conducted by 11 organisations.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service last month proposed downgrading the manatee's status from endangered, a designation given to species on the brink of extinction, to threatened.

Manatees, which are also known as sea cows, have been on the endangered list for more than 40 years due to threats posed by urbanisation, water contamination and collisions with boats.

Surface to breathe

During winter months, manatees head for warmer waters. Their return in the spring affords researchers an ideal opportunity to take stock of their health and their numbers.

The survey is conducted by air and the count represents the minimum number of manatees in the area.

The Florida manatees are part of the estimated

About 13 000 live in the Caribbean and along the coasts of Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil.

Manatees live in shallow waters and must come to the surface to breathe about every 15 minutes. The herbivores can reach 4m, weigh up to 600kg and  live about 40 years.

Read more on:    us  |  marine life

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