Annual manatee count: 4,840
Published: Friday, January 28, 2011 at 10:49 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 28, 2011 at 10:58 p.m.
Manatee researchers spotted 4,840 manatees in state waters during an aerial count taken a week ago.
January aerial manatee count
2011 - 4,840
2010 - 5,076
2009 - 3,082
2008 - n/a*
2007 - 2,817
2006 - 3,113
*No census conducted because weather conditions did not meet researchers' criteria
More information about manatees and the state can be found at http://research.MyFWC.com/Manatee
To report dead or injured manatees, call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC.
- More information about manatees and the state can be found at http://research.MyFWC.com/Manatee
- To report dead or injured manatees, call the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC.
The goal of the annual count coordinated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is to count as many manatees as possible from overhead so that state officials know the minimum number of manatees.
The count is not considered a census.
“We don’t ever really know for certain how many manatees are in state waters, but this allows us to know the minimum numbers that are out there,” said FWC spokeswoman Carli Segelson.
This year the count was conducted by a team of 20 observers from 11 organizations who counted from aircraft between Jan. 20 and 24.
The spotters recorded 2,438 manatees along Florida’s east coast and 2,402 on the west coast.
Researchers said the ideal time to conduct the counts is during a warming after a prolonged cold spell.
After a cold front moves out, the warm water areas where manatees like to congregate during the cold snaps tends to be clearer.
Often there is little or no wind to disturb the surface, which makes the manatees easier to see. Also, during a warm period, researchers said the manatees tend to move toward the surface of the water more often.
The counts are not used to calculate long-term population trends, Segelson said, because researchers cannot know how many manatees are not visible to them.
“That is why we consider this a minimum count because we suspect, but can’t know for certain, there are others out there,” Segelson said.