Updated January 24th, 2024 at 13:30 IST
Nearly 1,000 Of Threatened Species Spotted In Record-Breaking Swim At Florida Park | SEE PICS
An unprecedented number of manatees were discovered sunbathing in a shallow waterway in Florida, offering a positive development for the endangered species.
Over the weekend, an unprecedented number of manatees were discovered sunbathing in a shallow waterway in Florida, offering a positive development for the endangered species. A remarkable total of 932 sea cows were counted on Sunday at Blue Spring State Park, a warm haven for these mammals located 30 miles north of Orlando.
This figure surpassed the park's previous record set on New Year's Day, which saw 736 manatees in the same location in a single day, as announced by park officials. Captivating images from the record-breaking morning showcase numerous manatees relishing the crystal-clear waters, surrounded by vibrant foliage in the sanctuary park.
In addition to those visible, an underwater live-stream camera captured dozens more manatees lurking beneath the surface. However, the task of counting every single manatee in the waterway was complicated and potentially impossible due to high winds.
“There is a very good chance that many more were in, huddled together so we were unable to identify them,” said the Save the Manatee Club.
Manatee gathering in Blue Spring State Park amidst coldest seasonal morning
The remarkable occurrence was recorded on what officials identified as the "coldest morning of the season so far." With the nearby St. John's River registering a relatively cool 58.8 degrees, nearly 1,000 manatees were driven to seek warmth in the waters of the park, where temperatures remain a constant 72 degrees throughout the year.
Between mid-November and March, sea cows gather in the shallow waters due to their inability to withstand water temperatures below 68 degrees for extended periods. These marine mammals possess only about an inch of fat and are susceptible to cold stress syndrome. This condition, akin to hypothermia, pneumonia, or frostbite in humans, has the potential to make them severely ill, as outlined by Blue Spring State Park.
About the species, Manatees
Manatees, classified as a threatened species, have shown signs of a gradual recovery in their population.
In 2023, Florida witnessed over 550 manatee deaths due to watercraft accidents, disease, and starvation. However, this marked a significant decrease from the 1,027 deaths reported in 2021, according to data from the Florida Fish and Wildlife
The positive trend in manatee numbers prompted wildlife officials to halt a two-year experimental feeding program in December. This decision came as seagrass, a vital component of the manatees' diet, showed signs of recovery in key winter foraging areas on the east coast. Additionally, there appeared to be fewer manatees in poor physical condition as they entered the challenging colder months.
The issue of starvation among manatees has been linked to pollution, specifically nitrogen, phosphorus, and sewage runoff from agriculture, urban areas, and other sources. These pollutants lead to algae blooms, subsequently threatening the seagrass crucial for manatees and other marine life.
The overall estimated population of Florida manatees ranges between 8,350 and 11,730 animals, offering a glimmer of hope for the recovery of this cherished species.
Published January 24th, 2024 at 13:30 IST