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Florida’s Manatee Population Is Up, But So Are Deaths

Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus), Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, Florida. Photo: Tracy Colson, US Fish and Wildlife Service

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Florida wildlife authorities say the state’s manatee population is up, at between 7,000 and 10,000 animals.

That’s despite a spike in manatee deaths this year.

The new estimate is based on a survey performed in 2015 and 2016. The survey includes computer modeling and is considered to be more accurate than annual aerial surveys.

The more comprehensive survey is performed every five years. The last one in 2011 and 2012 found Florida’s manatee population to be between 5,600 and 8,000 animals.

The manatee was reclassified in 2017 as threatened rather than endangered.

Florida’s manatees have had a tough year. Wildlife authorities have documented 779 deaths so far, compared with 538 last year.

Cold weather, red tide and boat collisions are blamed. Some 200 deaths are linked with red tide.

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Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

Amy Green covers the environment for 90.7 News. She is an award-winning journalist whose work has been heard on NPR and seen in PEOPLE, Newsweek, The New York Times and The Christian Science Monitor. She began her career at The Associated Press. Her book on the Everglades, under contract with Johns Hopkins ... Read Full Bio »