Dark Side of the Bottom

Two years ago, Florida counted 828 manatee deaths, the most ever recorded. This year, things appear to be getting better for the marine mammal. Florida biologists announced Monday that they have counted a record number of manatees, also called "sea cows."

Counting this many manatees is wonderful news,” said Richard Corbett, who is chairman of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “The high count this year shows that our long-term conservation efforts are working.”

But some conservationists, who are people who work to protect animals, plants and natural resources, say not so fast.Biologists suspect that warm temperatures helped the state get the high tally by bringing the slow-moving and portly mammals to the surface where they could soak up the sun, making it possible for them to be seen by counters.“I want to finish the job before people misunderstand what a count like this means,” he explained. He worries that the survey results will persuade the U.S. government to decide that manatees do not need to continue to be protected. “It’s good news, but it doesn't mean we’re done.”

Some disagree and think that the rules protecting manatees should become less strict.