New numbers gathered from a winter survey held in December has shown that the number of Manatees has risen to more than 6,600, which is higher than the count in 2015 and 2016. The aquatic mammals were considered “endangered” or in danger of extinction, but the significant steps that have been taken over the past 30 years are showing results.

Not everyone’s happy

In order to protect the sea cows, scientists have implemented a speed limit on boats who often hit the manatees as they cross path.

The mammals also face the dangers of swallowing trash, which might kill them. These protective measures, argue some conservationists, might be downgraded because of the shift in status. Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director of the Center for Biological Diversity said that although they are no longer in danger of extinction, the manatees are still in danger. There’s the ongoing threats from boat strikers and habitat loss, and the Center does not support “reducing protections.”

The efforts made by the Florida Fish and Wildlife in support of the Endangered Species Act were helping.

Compared to the first time manatees were listed as endangered in 1972, the population has more than increased five-fold. Florida implemented boat speed zones, which are areas where boats must lower their speed as they cross manatee concentration spots. According to USA Today, there are 13,000 manatees spread throughout the Caribbean and the southeast U.S. They are made up of two species: the Antillean manatee and the Florida manatee.

Alarming responses

The responses from parties involved in the protection of these animals has been an alarming distress. Congressman Vern Buchanan called it a “huge disappointment," and the executive director of the Save the Manatee Club, Patrick Rose, said that it was “a devastating blow to manatees." The concern was that this move would negatively affect the chances of securing their long-term survival.

In 2015 there were 6,063 manatees, and in 2016 there were 6,250. On the policy level, the Endangered Species Act itself, which was signed into law in 1973, is now facing threats of being shut down.

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