security Status

Listed as threatened under the Endangered species Act and designated as depleted under the marine Mammal security Act.

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dangers

Collisions v boats, entrapment in flood gates, entanglement in fishing gear, ns of heat water habitat, toxins connected with red tides, cold stress, disturbance by swimmers and also divers.


Range / Distribution

In winter, East and also West shores of main and southern Florida. In summer, East coast manatees variety north right into the Carolinas, with some pets occasionally discovered as far north as Rhode Island. West shore manatees range west come Louisiana, yet have also been uncovered in Texas and in a couple of cases, Cuba and the Bahamas.


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The Florida manatee, a subspecies that the West Indian manatee, is a large, slow-moving marine mammal v an elongated, ring body and paddle-shaped flippers and tail. Manatees room herbivores, feeding solely on seagrass, algae and other vegetation in freshwater and also estuarine systems in the southeastern united States. Florida manatees have the right to be uncovered as far west as Texas and also as far north as Massachusetts throughout summer months, yet during the winter, manatees congregate in Florida, as they require warm-water habitats come survive. Diversity of the subspecies has actually increased over the last 30 years, which recently prompted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife organization (FWS) to downlist the West Indian manatee from threatened to threatened. However, because of their slow-moving speed and reasonably high buoyancy, manatees are frequently struck by vessels, which is the primary reason of human-related deaths of the species. Additionally, manatees continue to be threatened by ns of warm-water habitat and also periodic die-offs indigenous red tides and unusually cold weather events. Florida manatees are controlled jointly through both FWS and also the Florida Fish and also Wildlife Conservation the supervisory board (FWC).


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Florida manatees at 3 Sisters Spring, crystal River, Florida. (Cynthia Taylor, Sea to shore Alliance)


Species Status

Abundance and Trends

The total abundance for the Florida manatee populace state-wide was revised in December 2018 and is now estimated at 8,810 manatees. This estimate is based on aerial surveys conducted in 2015-2016 and accounts for feasible error in the detection of pets using a statistical model arisen by FWC’s Fish and also Wildlife research study Institute (FWRI). This estimate is greater than vault minimum counts, which were may have been inaccurate because they were based upon synoptic surveys that did no account for animals missing from survey sites or not checked out by observers. The recent higher abundance estimate also suggests that manatee numbers are steadily increasing in Florida, an indication the manatee conservation measures are contributing to restore of the population.

Distribution

The Florida manatee occurs just in seaside and inland waters of the southeastern united States, wherein it rectal the northern limit the the species’ range. Because lengthy exposure come water temperatures below 18°C (65°F) have the right to be lethal to manatees, Florida manatees space confined greatly to the southerly two-thirds of the Florida Peninsula in winter. Over there they aggregate at warm-water springs and thermal outfalls from strength plants, or continue to be along the leaf of the Everglades at the southern reminder of the state. Together water temperatures increase in spring and also summer, Florida manatees disperse transparent the state and also into neighboring states.

Endangered species Act listing

The Florida manatee is a subspecies that the West Indian manatee, which, till recently, was listed as threatened under the Endangered species Act (ESA). However, in 2012, FWS obtained a petition requesting the all West Indian manatees, consisting of Florida manatees and also the 2nd subspecies, Antillian manatees, be reclassified from intimidated to threatened under the ESA.

In April 2017, FWS official downlisted the species. In its final rule, the agency cited that the West Indian manatee had met the downlisting criteria developed in the 2001 Florida Manatee restore Plan and also thus warranted reclassification from threatened to threatened.

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Manatees and also Warm-Water Refuges

Manatee Harassment

What the the supervisory board Is Doing

Legal Protection

In an answer to the 2016 proposed listing change of the West Indian Manatee by the U.S. Fish and also Wildlife organization (FWS), us submitted a letter recommending the the two subspecies, the Florida manatee and also the Antillean manatee, be taken into consideration separately. The Commission noted that despite boost in the populace size of Florida manatees, the development of the population over the past 30 years has remained sluggish while manatee mortalities proceed to reach record highs. We likewise expressed our problem with the loss that warm-water habitat due to eventual retirements of strength plants end the next 30 to 40 years. This could threaten the future manatee populace in Florida and also reverse previous recovery progress.

In addition, the commission opposed an altering the listing standing for Antillean manatees, which, outside of Puerto Rico, continue to face considerable threats from habitat loss and also degradation, hunting, fisheries bycatch, pollution, and also human disturbance. The Sirenia Specialist group of the international Union for the conservation of Nature (IUCN) approximates that only around 2,500 maturation Antillean manatees remain and projected that the subspecies would decline by 20 percent over the following two generations (40 years) in the lack of efficient responses to current and also projected anthropogenic threats.

FWS official downlisted the West Indian manatee ~ above 5 April 2017. However, the Commission continues to be committed to engaging through federal, state and local authorities come ensure enough protections continue for the types and frequently participates in stakeholder meetings hosted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation the supervisory board (FWC). We continue to assistance an evaluate of the potential harmful impact on manatees that a palliation in warm-water refuges through the retirement of strength plants, and the effectiveness of boat speed restrictions.

Manatee Harassment

We have additionally been concerned about the harassment of manatees through swimmers, divers, and also kayakers in ~ the majesties Bay warm-water refuge in the city of crystal River, and an especially at three Sisters Springs, the site’s biggest spring. Components of queens Bay, consisting of Three sisters Spring, are regulated as part of the FWS’s crystal River national Wildlife Refuge. In respectable 2014, the save the Manatee society petitioned the FWS come close 3 Sisters to human access during the winter manatee season. In response, we created to the FWS in November 2014 noting the urgent require for additional steps to minimize harassment in the spring and repeated previous recommendations that the FWS embrace a no-touch policy and also a minimum approach distance because that swimmers.

In beforehand 2015, we conducted a website visit to decision River and also met with involved federal, state, and local officials as well as local citizens and environmental group representatives to testimonial manatee administration efforts and plans at decision River. This matters to be further thought about during the Commission’s 2015 annual meeting. Throughout the winter the 2014-15, Refuge staff temporarily closed 3 Sisters feather to human access on several occasions as soon as high number of manatees were present in the spring. In 2017, FWS exit an update management setup for three Sisters Spring, which includes guidelines come close the spring to public access when water temperatures in the region drop come 17 degrees Celsius.

Commission Reports and also Publications

See Florida manatee part in chapters on varieties of Special worry in past Annual Reports to Congress.

Laist, David W., Taylor, Cynthia, and also Reynolds, john E. III. 2013. Winter Habitat preferences for Florida Manatees and also Vulnerability come Cold.

Laist, David W. And Shaw, Cameron. 2006. Preliminary proof that watercraft Speed limitations Reduce Deaths the Florida Manatees.

Laist, David W. And Reynolds, john E. III. 2005. Affect of strength Plants and Other Warm-Water Refuges ~ above Florida Manatees.

Laist, David W. And also Reynolds, man E. III. 2005. Florida Manatees, Warm-Water Refuges, and also an unsure Future.

Lowry, Lloyd, Laist, David W., and Taylor, Elizabeth. 2007. Endangered, Threatened, and also Depleted marine Mammals in U.S. Waters.

Taylor, Cynthia R. 2006. A inspection of Florida Springs to Determine availability to Florida Manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris): occurring a Sustainable heat Network.

Weber, Michael L. And also Laist, David W. 2007. The status of security Programs for Endangered, Threatened, and also Depleted marine Mammals in U.S. Waters.

Commission Letters

Letter day Letter description
April 8, 2016

Letter to FWS on proposed reclassification that the West Indian manatee from endangered to threatened

November 24, 2015

Letter to FWS on a revised draft environmental assessment with alternatives to defend Florida manatees in the three Sisters Springs Unit the the crystal River national Wildlife Refuge

September 28, 2015

Letter come Gulf coast Ecosystem repair Council top top a breeze Funded top priorities List because that Gulf the Mexico restoration activities under the gain back Act

September 4, 2015

Letter come FWS on a draft environmental assessment to minimize manatee harassment in the 3 Sisters Springs Unit of the decision River national Wildlife Refuge

December 30, 2014

Letter to FWS on proposed procedures for manatee viewing at the crystal River nationwide Wildlife Refuge

November 3, 2014

Letter to FWS ~ above a petition to designate three Sisters Spring as a manatee sanctuary

September 2, 2014

Letter come FWS_on a petition come reclassify West Indian manatees from threatened to threatened

September 21, 2011

Letter come FWS on regulating warm-water refuges

August 22, 2011

Letter to FWS ~ above a proposed dominance to develop a manatee refuge in majesties Bay, Florida

April 26, 2010

Letter to FWS top top reconvening the manatee recovery team and warm water task force

January 14, 2010

Letter come FWC on a draft last endangered and threatened types listing process rule

October 29, 2009

Letter come FWS on a petition come revise an essential habitat for Florida manatees under the Endangered varieties Act

September 10, 2009

Letter come FWS on breeze stock assessment reports because that the Florida and Puerto Rico stocks of West Indian manatees

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Threats

Despite the recent increase in manatee abundance, manatees continue to confront numerous threats and experience high level of mortality. Along the Atlantic shore of Florida, numerous manatee carcasses have actually been recovered because December 2020.. Preliminary data released by FWC reflect that manatee deaths are up 212% for the first few months that 2021compared with the five-year average.

Cold stress poses an additional threat to manatees and was likely a contributing element to the rise in manatee mortalities in 2021. Together manatees proceed to shed warm-water habitat indigenous the damage of herbal springs and also the closure of power plants, complete recovery the the types becomes an ext difficult.

In addition, collisions with watercrafts are a frequent and increasing reason of human-related deaths, together propellers and also boat hulls have the right to inflict severe or mortal wounds. Vessel-related deaths got to a brand-new peak in 2019, with 137 manatees stuck and killed by boats , which top the previous document of 124 vessel-inflicted mortalities set in 2018.

Manatees can also be killed by neurotoxins connected with red tides that happen most regularly in southwest Florida. This toxins deserve to be inhaled when they surface to breathe in affected areas, or ingested once they eat sea grass encrusted through tunicates the accumulate the toxins. In 2018, one unprecedented number of manatees died from a big and persistent red tide outbreak in southwest Florida. Harmful algal blooms are also thought to be a contributing variable to the lose of seagrass in estuaries along the Florida coasts.

Instances the manatee harassment are likewise a problem in areas of naturally occurring warm-water springs. When people disturb manatees, it can transform their natural behaviors important because that survival.

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Annual Florida Manatee mortality indigenous 1990 come 2020. Annual number and percentage (in parentheses) of recognized Florida manatee deaths in the southeastern United says (excluding Puerto Rico).

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Current conservation Efforts

On-the-ground manatee conservation efforts coordinated together by FWS and also FWC room geared toward continuing to recover manatees and also mitigating the impacts of ongoing threats. Such activities include assessing the abundance of the Florida manatee population, tracking manatee activities through photo-identification and satellite-linked radio telemetry, monitoring the impact of short-lived power plant shutdowns in ~ plants gift converted indigenous oil to gas fired generators, boosting conditions and also protecting manatees in ~ natural warm water refuges, rescuing and rehabilitating distressed manatees, responding to and investigating manatee mortalities, responding come reports of manatee carcasses, obtrude site-specific watercraft speed zones, and also strengthening management efforts to avoid harassment through divers at decision River.