MIAMI (AP) - Florida wildlife officials say they've counted a
record number of manatees in the state.
Researchers counted 3,807 manatees statewide during the weeklong aerial survey that began Jan. 19.
The previous record was about 3,300 manatees counted in 2001.
Wildlife officials said Wednesday that the survey results are
consistent with population models showing manatee populations
increasing in northwest Florida.
The aerial surveys provide researchers with the minimum number
of manatees in Florida waters at the time.
Weather and manatee behavior affect the results: the best conditions for the surveys are the coldest months of the year when the endangered sea mammals gather at warm-water sites.
Weather conditions did not meet the requirements to conduct the
survey last year.