A record number of manatees have been counted off the coast of Florida this year, according to Yahoo News last week. On the endangered list for 40 years, the 6,250 sea cows, as they are commonly called, are a cause for celebration. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has even proposed a status downgrade from ‘endangered’ to ‘threatened.’
The manatee population in the same place last year was 6,063, which shows that steady increase in numbers. The numbers are taken by air, and they represent the minimum amount of animals present. The total number of manatees worldwide is currently estimated around 13,000. Most of them live in the Caribbean and around the coast of South America.
On Defenders.org, there are some interesting facts about Florida manatees as well as other endangered species. Most interestingly, manatees are a relative of the elephant! Although these huge mammals can grow to be 13 feet long, they are herbivores, eating mainly sea grasses and fresh water vegetation.
At a time when environmental news is seldom good, the plight of the manatee is definitely improving. This has much to do with conservation efforts made over the past 40 years. This is encouraging and will hopefully prompt similar results among many endangered species around the world.