Manatees tired of cold, swim to warmer water
Saturday, January 18, 2014, 9:22 AM -
When the cold weather hits, humans aren't the only ones that run to warmer spots. Manatees in Florida have been aggregating in the warm waters of Jurassic Springs. The animals are not an uncommon sight in the area. In fact, people often visit Jurassic Springs for the chance to swim with the manatees but the massive influx of marine mammals has forced officials to close down the area to divers.
It's a measure to help the animals conserve their energy during the cold period. Some believe that the nearly 600 manatees that are seeking refuge in the area is a sign that the animal's population is showing a healthy growth and could lead to the removal of the manatee from the endangered species list in the near future.
The Fight for Survival
While most studies on manatees show a projected stable or increasing populations, they didn't take into account rare events that occurred in 2013 and 2010.
These unusual mortality events (UME) in recent years have been caused by extremely cold weather. In 2010 nearly 800 manatees died, and almost 300 of those were cold-related deaths. In 2013, even more factors came into play to affect manatee populations. A red tide (a phenomenon also known as algal bloom) killed about 250 manatees in Lee County.
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Watercraft-related deaths were down in 2013 but activists are quick to point out that it's not just enough to stop boat injuries. It's also important to improve the water quality. They also worry that the relative success the manatees are seeing in population growth could lead to fewer protections which they believe would be counterproductive.
A manatee just came up to me on the dock! Hey lil guy! pic.twitter.com/HzteG7LK8i— Haley McConville (@HaleyyMcC) January 12, 2014