Things are looking up for Florida's manatees.

The West Indian manatee has long been considered "endangered"-- a species on life support. But at the end of March, federal officials changed the manatees' status to “threatened,” which means their condition is less critical. In early 2017, officials counted more than 6,000 manatees in Florida’s waters.

Some Florida lawmakers want manatees back on the endangered species list.


If Hollywood were to assemble a cast of Florida marine life for a film, the dolphin would be the high-energy hero, the sea turtle would be the brainy taskmaster of the operation, and the manatee would be the slow-moving but lovable character everyone looks forward to seeing. 

Photos: Wikimedia Creative Commons

In the environmentally sensitive landscape of Southwest Florida, there are a few endangered or threatened species that tend to take center stage. In recent weeks, species ranging from manatees to panthers to burrowing owls have made headlines over significant changes to the laws designed to protect them.

One of the symbols of Florida is no longer an endangered species. That's according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which announced Thursday they're downlisting the manatee from endangered to threatened. Manatees have been classified as endangered since the first federal endangered species list was issued in 1967.

More manatees than ever - 6,300 - were counted during the winter, when they congregate around springs and warm power plant outfalls. But last year, more than one hundred manatees were killed, mostly by boaters.