The Florida manatee population has grown to over 7,250 animals today and as a result, in early 2017 the Florida manatee was reclassified from an endangered to a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act.
DESTIN — Destin Beach Safety lifeguards got an unexpected close look at a manatee this week while they were out training.
They posted a video from the encounter on their Facebook page.
Although manatees are not a common sight in Northwest Florida, they do travel through area waters. The Daily News recently asked the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for more information about these large, lovable sea creatures.
Q: Do people have to report manatee sightings to FWC?
A: There is no need to report a manatee sighting. Members of the public are encouraged to report distressed, injured or dead manatees online or by calling 888-404-FWCC (888-404-3922). Cellular phone users can also call *FWC or #FWC, or send a text to Tip@MyFWC.com.
Q: Is there any evidence, other than anecdotal, that they are spending more time in Panhandle waters?
A: Manatees are not spending more time in the Florida panhandle. The panhandle is within the manatee’s summer range and manatees continue to use this area as they have for many years. In fact, there are some manatees each year that venture even further west to Alabama and Louisiana.
Q: When might we see them here, typically, in terms of time of year?
A: Manatees will be seen most commonly during the warmer months April through October. Manatees are rarely found west of Wakulla springs during the winter months because of a lack of warm-water habitat.
Q: If there are indeed more manatees up here, what are the suspected reasons?
A: The manatee population has grown over the last 30 years. Because of this there are more manatees throughout their range, including the panhandle of Florida.
Q: In South Florida, there are speed limits to help protect manatees. How are those set up and has there been any discussion of that here?
A: Check out our web page on Manatee Protection Zones for more information how these rules are established: https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/wildlife/manatee/protection-zones/
Q: Are manatees threatened or endangered?
A: The Florida manatee population has grown to over 7,250 animals today and as a result, in early 2017 the Florida manatee was reclassified from an endangered to a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act.
This story has been written and syndicated across GateHouse Media Group's 22 Florida markets.