The future is looking up for Florida's manatee population.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
reported Monday a preliminary count of 6,620 manatees in Florida waters.
The past three years have held a steady increase in the manatee population, with at least 6,000 counted per year. In 2016, manatees were officially taken off the endangered species list. However, manatees are still considered threatened.
This is promising news considering last year Florida boaters were responsible for nearly 100 manatee deaths
, which was a new record for the Sunshine State.
Researchers with the FWC determine the number of manatees by performing an annual survey after a cold front to determine the head count. Approximately 3,488 manatees total were found on Florida's east coast, and 3,132 were found on the west coast. According to FWC, this year's count was aided by low winds, sunny weather and good visibility.
FWC biologist Gill McRae said the warm water is most important for keeping populations on the rise. "The relatively high counts we have seen for the past three years underscore the importance of warm water habitat to manatees in Florida. The FWC will continue to work diligently with our many partners to ensure the long-term viability of these habitats and the well-being of the manatee population."
Want to support the manatees? You can buy a cool manatee license plate here