An aerial camera caught a delightful sight off the coast of St. Petersburg, Florida last week, as a small pod of dolphins swam through a huge aggregation of manatees. As the dolphins make their way through the shallow waters, we see around 170 manatees just chilling, as manatees do. Then we get to see the dolphins show off their playfulness, as dolphins do.
The marine mammal mingling is particularly meaningful knowing how the manatee has struggled for survival.
170 Manatees and Some Jumping Dolphins in St Petersburg, FL www.youtube.com
Florida manatees became protected under the Endangered Species Act in 1973, when their numbers were estimated to be between 800 and 1,000. By 1991, their population was still less than 1,300. But dedicated conservation and rehabilitation efforts in recent decades have increased that number to around 6,300. Manatees in Florida currently make up around half of the world's total manatee population.
The increase in numbers does come with a couple of caveats, however. Manatee populations are notoriously difficult to count accurately, so estimates are just that. The manatee was downgraded from "endangered" to "threatened" in 2017, but some advocates said that designation is misleading because the threats to its survival are still just as much of a problem.
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