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Why Are Manatees Moving Away from Florida?

In an interesting turn of events, manatees have been appearing further and further west along the Gulf of Mexico. The Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s Manatee Sighting Network for Alabama and Mississippi started reporting strandings and sightings, and it has since increased year over year with the number of spotted manatees west of Florida, which is beyond their normal home. Now, here at Wild Florida, we see plenty of manatees or “sea cows” as we like to call them on our Orlando airboat tours.

The head of the Manatee Sighting Networks for Alabama and Mississippi, Ruth Carmichael, has anticipated that something in the environment is changing, which is causing the manatees to spread out, which in turn, is driving them west. Carmichael needs to gather more data in order to make a more accurate hypothesis for the manatee behavior, so she is expanding her network to include Louisiana and Texas. "We see more animals coming here, staying longer, going farther west. We want to be prepared," Carmichael said.

According to the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’, Louisiana has averaged about seven manatee sightings per year for the past 20 years, while Texas records about one sighting per year. “Work toward a four-state sighting network is preliminary so far but the project is important,” said Suzanne Smith, marine mammal stranding coordinator at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans and one of the people working with Carmichael.

Wild Florida is passionate about Florida wildlife, especially those endangered species such as manatees. If you want to learn more about our Orlando airboat tours or Florida wildlife, make sure to browse through our website or contact us today! To report manatee sightings or strandings: