This has been a record year for counting the number of manatees in Florida, but what about our island neighbor to the south? Columbus first mentioned the waters off Cuba swimming with manatees, but since then they've been hunted for food.
No one really knows how many live there. A marine conservation expedition beginning Tuesday aims to shine some light on their plight - as well as that of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. It's being held by Sea to Shore Alliance, a small nonprofit group formed about six years ago in Sarasota. WUSF's Steve Newborn talks with it's executive director, Dr. James "Buddy" Powell, who says it's a first-of-its-kind trip to Cuba.
Powell says he came up with the first concrete proof that manatees traverse the Straits of Florida and winter in Cuba. He's also documented manatees swimming across the Carribbean, off the nation of Belize.
WUSF will report on their trip to Cuba in the coming weeks.