Conservationists doing an annual count of Florida's manatees said Monday they've tallied a record 6, 000 -- various that reflects years of effort to guard the marine mammals.
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"The high count this season shows that our long-term conservation efforts are working, " said Richard Corbett, chairman of the state's Fish and Wildlife Fee (FWC).
FWC officials said this year's manatee count is approximately a thousand more than the previous high in 2010.
The director of the FWC's research arm, Gil McRae, said that Florida's environmentalists are usually particularly heartened by latest evidence that this manatee population is flourishing, despite "large-scale mortality events that resulted in over 800 deaths in 2013. "
The manatee, a native marine animal seen in all parts of Florida, are actually under state protection since 1893, together with being covered by the fed Endangered Species Act.
During winter, manatees head for warmer oceans. Their spring-time return affords researchers the perfect opportunity to take stock with their health and their numbers.
Officials said oversized animals -- which could measure three meters (10 feet) in length and weigh just as much as a half-a-ton -- are threatened by habitat loss as a result of urbanization and water contamination, and often are hurt or killed throughout collisions with boats.